MY JOURNEY16 May 2019
By Paul Ogden, Westgrove’s first Mental Health First-Aider
As a company, we take mental health extremely seriously so we are very proud to be one of the first facilities management companies in the UK to appoint a mental health first-aider.
Paul Ogden has taken on the role at Market Place Shopping Centre in Bolton. He is available to offer support and advice to vulnerable customers visiting the centre as well as to the centre’s tenants.
Here he tells his story.
It’s now over 12 months since I came back to work after having a mental health illness.
You can’t see the symptoms of depression so it makes it very hard for people to understand it.
As a young man, I lacked confidence and didn’t know anything about depression. It was not something that was talked about.
After a series of jobs in logistics and security, I became mentally unwell. What were the symptoms? I couldn’t sleep. I felt anxious about everything. I felt hopeless. Thoughts of negativity engulfed me. My family didn’t know what was going on.
In March 2017 I met Joanne O’Neill, Westgrove’s Business Manager, and she offered me a job at Market Place Shopping Centre in Bolton.
I took the job because I was desperate to lead a normal life but I knew I couldn’t. I reluctantly went off sick in the May.
I tried everything to get better. I saw my GP, took medication, went to the Priory. I tried everything.
On September 28th 2017, a year after my symptoms appeared, I met up with Joanne and Market Place Centre Manager Nikki Wilson-Cook.
It was a turning point for me. They both reassured me that Westgrove supported me and trusted me. They gave me the confidence to gently come back to work.
Luckily for me, Westgrove is at the forefront of mental health support in the facilities management world. Listening to Alex Staniforth, who has dealt with his own mental health issues, has also been inspiring.
I’ve had great strength given to me from people and I am so proud to be the company’s first Mental Health First-Aider.
I’m using my experience to now help other people to get better, which is extremely rewarding. At Westgrove we deal with mental health issues every day, be it a colleague or a member of the public suffering mental distress. Knowing what people are going through means I can help them.
Today mental health is not the taboo subject it once was. We have come a long way, but there is much work still to be done.
Talking about mental health reduces the stigma and encourages people to talk about it in a positive way.
Thankfully, the support I received was the key to my recovery.