From the TUC

Mark’s rep helped him through severe depression – #heartunions

13 Feb 2017, By

8th – 14th February 2017 is #heartunions week, celebrating the great work unions do, and paying tribute to the reps who are an important part of that. The Unsung Heroes series is running all week, sharing stories from reps and members about how being part of their union has impacted their lives.

Mark Hodgson is a 35-year-old UNITE member and is married with a son. Mark works at Sellafield in Cumbria.

When Mark began working for Sellafield, he was suffering from severe mental health problems including severe depression. Over the previous few years, he had three major breakdowns where he struggled to go to work. Mark lost his Mum when he was young, and his Dad shortly after to throat cancer. “I witnessed my Mum and Dad die, but I was still going into work. No one was listening and I was crying inside.”

Mark had a nervous breakdown and was on eight or nine medications, but was still working. He spent six weeks at the Priory clinic, but he didn’t fully recover. He felt he was slowly getting better, but then he had a relapse and was worried he would lose his job.

“My dad used to say pull yourself together. I thought about suicide and I even planned my own death. I use to go to the doctors for help and get turned away. I was struggling to talk about watching my mum die.”

Mark feels there isn’t enough mental health support in Cumbria and around the country. With the help of rep Carl Lewthwaite, however, he thinks Sellafield are doing a lot of good work by supporting staff in the workplace. “If Carl wasn’t there I would be looking at medical retirement. He just doesn’t know how he has helped me. ”

When Mark returned to work after his relapse, with the support of Carl and his manager, Kevin, he began to work 1 to 2 days a week. Then to 3 days and now works 4 days a week. With Carl’s support, and rallied on by two colleagues and Kevin, who could see his talent, Mark applied for promotion. On his return to work, Mark was successful and now is an Electric Instrument Engineer.

“Both Kevin & Carl were unbelievable support in that development – they both agreed I deserved the credit for doing it. Both told me to go for it as I deserved it and shouldn’t worry about my health holding me back.”

“I feel I’ve got the support I need. I want to tell my story, because, if I can stop one person from going through what I have been through over the years, I would be glad. Having Carl in the workplace, you know there is someone there to turn to when you need help.”

Read Carl’s story here.

The big aim for #heartunions week is to encourage more people to join a union. Please share this page with friends, colleagues and neighbours. If we each get one person to join a union this week, we’ll be well on the way to getting a better deal for working people all year round.

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