Ben Hawkins, an Emergency Dispatch worker from East of England Ambulance Service, is sharing his own struggles with mental health in a new video to encourage others to share their story and seek help if they are struggling. Watch Ben’s video below.

 

YouTube video

 

Ben, who has been part of the UK’s ambulance community for the last three years and suffers from anxiety, started to struggle with his mental health in 2019 after his relationship broke up and he started receiving horrible comments on social media. Ben says:

“It left me feeling quite worthless and undervalued; I felt overwhelmed with emotions and started to question everything about myself. On top of this, in my role in the ambulance service, I have a few hundred volunteers and staff who look to me for advice and guidance, which I can find quite tough and I felt like there was never really time for me to be unwell. I needed to be okay to support staff and friends. I guess I was embarrassed to admit I was focusing on this front for so long that I wasn’t myself.”

Ben’s mental health continued to deteriorate and he was struggling to go to work or even leave the house. He also started experiencing physical symptoms. Ben says:

“I started to have palpitations, headaches and sickness so bad I actually vomited. But I needed to put on a front because that’s who I was; because I’m a happy person that doesn’t suffer from anxiety. I saw it as a weakness.”

In November 2019, Ben’s friend and EEAST colleague Luke Wright took his own life. Ben took a day off before returning to work and the following day received an emergency call from someone attempting suicide. Ben continues:

“After that call, that’s when I hit rock bottom. I couldn’t keep up the front any longer and decided that suicide was the only way. If it wasn’t for one of my good friends I wouldn’t be here today.”

Ben has been in therapy for his mental health for the past ten months and is feeling much more positive. Ben is urging others to not be embarrassed about their mental health and to seek help if they’re struggling. Ben says:

“My whole life I’ve always wanted to join the ambulance service, it’s something I’m very passionate about. Although I love my job, it’s really important to remember that behind the uniform and the big ambulance and the headset, we’re actually just humans. The things we see and hear every single day, some people don’t experience in their lifetime.

What’s really important is that we do talk about mental health. It’s not embarrassing, it doesn’t make you weak. It actually makes you stronger because you can talk about it. So if you’re suffering, please get some help.”

Here to help

If you’re struggling with your mental health, there are several ways you can access support:

  • Contact TASC, The Ambulance Staff Charity. We can provide several talking therapies in your local area that are tailored to your needs. Learn more on our website or you can contact us at 0800 1032 999 or send us a message. TASC’s services are completely independent and confidential and we won’t share your details with anyone without your permission
  • Speak to your manager about what support your employer offers
  • Contact Mind for support. Learn more at: mind.org.uk
  • Text BLUELIGHT to 85258 for 24-hour text support from ShoutUK
  • If you’re feeling suicidal, call Samaritans 24 hours a day at 116 123


Contact TASC if you need support