So many people in this country are affected by mental health problems every year – one in four in fact. But what’s most worrying is that a large proportion of them will suffer in silence because they are afraid of being stigmatised. As someone who suffered from mental health problems for a number of years, I know this feeling well. My illness used to make me feel frightened, alone and unsure where to turn for support.
However, help can often be found in the most unlikely of places – for me, it was through my employer, Pizza Hut restaurants. I began working for Pizza Hut restaurants in 1998, initially cleaning tables and then quickly promoted to deputy manager and trained as a restaurant manager. My area manager was keen to support my progression further but the demons that haunted me as a teenager returned and I felt completely unable to cope.
My mental health hadn’t compromised my performance at work, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before it did. I was terrified of telling anyone in case they judged me. Eventually I built up the courage to call Pizza Hut restaurants’ employee support line and they immediately put me at ease. They explained that I was entitled to counselling through the company, then organised a weekly session to start the very next morning.