Opening up about mental health
Darren Barden, account manager for Tool firm Hilti, was the victim of a brutal knife attack which resulted in a severe breakdown. This year he published a book about his ordeal and journey back to good mental health.
How did your mental health issues impact on your career and work? How did colleagues and employers responded?
For years I allowed my mental health to dictate how my career path was mapped out. I have always had a drive and a passion for work but when things got tough I just buried my head in the sand. This was not pressure from my peers but from myself.
In my experience the feeling of being so alone was only second to feeling surplus to requirements. Colleagues, partners and employers were not able to help as I was trying to keep my true feelings hidden.
Do you feel the industry is doing enough to raise awareness of mental wellbeing? Is it more difficult being a man in a traditionally male-dominated industry to open up?
No, we have yet to put together mental health related toolbox talks or posters up around sites giving people an outlet. For me opening up as a man and saying “Help, I am having trouble coping” is tough – you believe it will have a detrimental effect on your position.
Since launching my book, Let’s Skip to the Good Bits, I have heard from many men who are suffering with mental health issues and without exception they all spoke in strictest confidence. It does not have to be this way.
Once you make the first move by opening up it gets easier and then when you accept help it can have a positive effect on personal and work life.
Do you see your future as a campaigner to promote openness around mental health or will you combine this with the “day job”?
I have been extremely lucky to find an employer like Hilti who genuinely believes in a work-life balance, and who gave me the time to write my book.
Since the launch I have been overwhelmed by messages from all walks of life telling me how my story has inspired them.
To read more or to buy Let’s Skip to the Good Bits, visit www.darrenbarden.com