News & Insights
My Mental Health Journey | Barbra Hackett, Fleet, Tool & Plant Administrator
Mercury is running its Be Brave: Break the Stigma campaign throughout October 2020, aimed at helping to break the stigma around mental health. Barbra Hackett speaks to us about his mental health journey.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
“I am originally from Dublin, Ireland but have been living in Co. Kildare for the last 18 years. I’ve been working with Mercury for almost 18 months now as a Fleet, Tool & Plant Administrator for continental Europe.
“My hobbies & interests include Photography & Interior Design. I am a member of Naas Photography Group and really enjoy the social aspect of photography, going on trips to different events and locations. My highlight was a trip the South Moravia in the Czech Republic last year for a 4-day workshop on landscape photography. Interior design has always been of interest to me & I am currently enrolled in a Diploma course in order to explore this interest further”.
How did you hear about the Mercury Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) service?
“I first heard about the Mercury EAP service last year, when our manager brought it to our attention following the sudden death of one of our colleagues. Then, when Covid-19 hit & we were working from home, there was an email sent out reminding staff that this service was available to everyone”.
How was your mental health impacted?
“This has been a particularly tough year for me, as my husband Eddie died aged 54 on the 27th February after a 13-week battle with Cancer. Thankfully, the lockdown hadn’t happened as yet, so we were able to have his funeral with all our family and friends in attendance. However, this was the last time that we have seen most of these people as the ‘lockdown’ came into place shortly afterwards.
“Living in Co. Kildare, my son and I are a good distance from all our family members who are spread mainly throughout Dublin. Following a loss, support and hugs are the norm. However, for us, we have been denied this, making the grieving process, much harder. People tend to forget about what you’re going through as they don’t get to see you and you don’t get to talk about how you are feeling and if you’re coping okay.
“It has been a real struggle, trying to carve out a new path in life and especially difficult while going through a pandemic. Working from home has been a distraction. However, it can also compound the feeling of being isolated – living & working in the same location with little variance. It was because of the isolation and not being able to go through the grieving process properly, that the real anxiety kicked in and I found it extremely hard to cope. I was beginning to see little hope for the future. It was following a government announcement that the lockdown would be extended that I felt I couldn’t do this on my own anymore & that’s what triggered me to pick up the phone and ask for help”.
What was your experience like using the EAP service at Mercury?
“I have had a very positive experience with the EAP service. I was a little apprehensive at first, thinking ‘should I use it? who will know? etc.’. However, I was advised by my counsellor that it was all confidential & there would be no “neon flashing lights” to Head Office advising that I was availing of the service.
“After I made the initial call & spoke for about 10-15 mins outlining my situation and it was agreed that help could be given, and weekly sessions commenced by Zoom, as we were in Lockdown. I feel that sessions over Zoom actually worked to my benefit, as I was in the familiar, comfortable surroundings of my own home but getting the help I needed from someone who understood what I was going through and giving me coping mechanisms to make things a little easier”.
Did you find the service of benefit to you?
“Absolutely, I found it invaluable! It worked for me and I know that it may not work for everyone but speaking up and asking for help is the first step – the hardest step, on the road to recovery. If not with a counsellor, speak to a friend, family member, colleague or helpline. There is NOTHING wrong in asking for help”.
If you didn’t have access to the EAP, do you think you would have sought to get the counselling you required?
“Probably, but I reckon it may have taken me longer to look for help and by that stage it may have been much harder to reach out & I’d probably have been in a much more difficult place”.
What do you think people can do to help break the stigma around mental health?
“I believe that huge ground has been made in recent years in relation to helping break the stigma attached to mental health. Mental Health used to be such a taboo subject, yet now the phrase is used daily – this can only be seen as a positive step. Awareness is key to reducing the stigma; getting the messages out there like – “It’s okay not be okay” or “It’s good to talk”. The more people talk about mental health and the more advertising campaigns that are done – these are all things that bring it out in the open and really help break down the stigma”.
Be Brave – Break the Stigma
Mercury is running its Be Brave: Break the Stigma campaign throughout October 2020.
As part of the campaign, we’ll be promoting awareness of breaking down the stigma associated with mental health and will be partnering with two fantastic charities; Aware and the Irish Men’s Sheds Association. Additionally, we will be donating to similar mental health charities across Europe during this campaign.
We will be posting more interviews with Mercury people sharing their mental health journeys and also sharing our activities across our global projects. Watch this space for some exciting content as we aim to break the stigma!