Case Study – Patrick Hickey – Multi-skilled Operator, Long Sutton
The trauma of my daughter, Shannon, being born 14 weeks early led to my ex-wife suffering with such bad post-natal depression that she tried to take her own life. I took a year off work to look after them.
That was 26 years ago and the hurt from that time still haunts me.
It is one of the main reasons why I trained to be a Mental Health First Aider. I wanted to help others who are going through difficult times.
You never know what is going on in someone’s life and it is so important not to judge people.
I joined Princes in 2018 and as well as being a Multi-skilled Operator I’m also deputy steward of the union, Unite.
I’m all about being fair and helping people when they feel low and need support.
Since I trained as a Mental Health First Aider 18 months ago, I’ve helped about 50 people. It can be all sorts of issues, from a cancer diagnosis to a bereavement, concern about being able to pay a bill or get out of debt or a work concern. I’m happy for people to confide in me.
I’ve heard some tough stories but I’m pleased that people feel happy to open up and talk to me. You become like their family, part of their support network.
Colleagues pick their time to talk to you. It can be outside of work, over a coffee in the canteen and I’ve taken urgent requests for guidance in the middle of the night.
The company are very supportive – the HR department is particularly approachable – and there’s an excellent employee assistance program (EAP) in place that provides a variety of free support programs for all colleagues.
Mental Health First Aiders are not doctors and we can’t give medical help but we can steer people in the right direction.
I find the role very rewarding. At times of difficulty, lots of people in life just need a little support and they don’t know where to access it. Our role gives us the opportunity to help.
I’m 58 and when I was at school anyone with a mental health issue would have been told to just pull themselves together. I think my parents would have given me the same advice.
It’s a different world today and it’s good that we can talk about mental health and it’s no longer a taboo subject. Mental wellbeing has such a big impact on people and their families. It’s why I’m proud of what we have achieved at Long Sutton and that the program is being rolled out to our other sites.
Princes is a very caring and honest company. I feel privileged to have done the training and to be in a position where I can help my colleagues.