My Resources

Jessica

How did you get started in your career and what drew you to the organisation you work for?

I started my career working in education, joined Teach First and spent three years teaching in outer London schools. I decided that I wanted to expand my business skills and learn this with a view to eventually contributing to either education or another non-profit. I am still enjoying building these skills as well as contributing to mental health advocacy through my various roles.

How do you manage your disability at work?

I have a flexible working arrangement where I work some days at home each week. I have the support of my managers to schedule medical appointments and attend them, as well as the ability to manage my working time in terms of meetings and other working time to best support my mental health.

How has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?

All of the above plus asking me what would help me, listening to me and then supporting me with what I request so that I can continue to do a good job

What advice or top tips would you offer?

Ask your employees what is helpful for them and ask ‘how can I help?’ and support them. Encourage openness by leading by example in the workplace

Working with Depression and Anxiety

I have depression and anxiety. I’ve had them for over 20 years but it wasn’t until last year that I first started talking about them for the first time. I’ve previously experienced discrimination at work because of my mental health conditions and I was absolutely terrified last year when I was in hospital with depression of telling people at work what was really happening, for fear that I might be discriminated against, receive stigma, be unsupported, be passed over for promotions, and more.

But I realised that not talking about my mental illness meant that I was contributing to a community where people didn’t talk about this. So I decided to start sharing my story and being completely open about my depression and anxiety. I’m very lucky to have had support from doctors, my psychiatrist, my therapist and my friends and family, and my colleagues at work. I now want people to feel that they should be able to talk about this at work and that they should expect to receive respect dignity and support from their colleagues and from others.

Despite being absolutely terrified of talking about my mental illness I have been overwhelmed by the support that I have received from individuals and I want to encourage everyone to talk about their mental illness whether they actually have a diagnosable condition or whether you’re just having a bad day and feeling a bit stressed.

I want to encourage as many people as possible to speak about their mental health, even if it’s just with one person, and get yourself some help, because you deserve it.

Although I’ve had depression for much of my life, I’ve managed to get a university degree after graduating from high school, I’ve managed to get several jobs and be promoted lots of times, so being depressed hasn’t stopped me from having a successful career. I want to break down the idea some people might have that just because you may have mental ill health you can’t succeed. You can. It might be very hard, and you might need support, but you should go for it, and you should expect support, and respect, from your colleagues, while you do it.

I believe that resilience is not about bouncing back and being stronger and better than ever before. It could be about getting through the week; it could be about getting through the day, and it could be about getting out of bed, and I know it sometimes is like that for me, when I’m feeling particularly ill.

My campaign Redefining Resilience is about sharing my story of the successes that I’ve managed to have despite having depression and anxiety for all the years that I’ve had it, and about supporting other people to speak about their own experiences so that they feel more comfortable talking about mental health, and provide a supportive environment for people to share stories about themselves and not feel ashamed about having an illness that’s just one part of who you are, it’s not the whole part of who you are

I believe that through sharing our stories through the Redefining Resilience awareness campaign that together we can encourage more people to have conversations about what resilience really means, and make people feel more comfortable to get help when they need it, for stress, for anxiety, for depression, for whatever they need, to keep going and achieve those goals.

Jessica can be reached on Twitter @volette or follow Jessica’s blog Redefining Resilience.

Jessica 's photo

Jessica

Manager, Technology Solutions

Year Joined / Path : 2014