Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Employers are 'harming' male mental health!

Disposable Workforce? - Pinterest/John Holcroft
Research released today by Mind, the Mental Health Charity in England and Wales, show that men are twice as likely to suffer from mental health issues caused by their job than women. If you've been reading my blog for while, this will resonate with my story. My previous job caused my mental health to diminish until in 2015 when I tried to kill myself.

I asked for help several times and was signed off work more than once. When I went to the office with the 'latest' sick note and told my senior manager I had been signed off due to stress he replied "No one else has a problem." He even tried to convince me to resign. Despite the reports and advice from the company's appointed Doctor and the evidence from my NHS psychologist and GP, they simply didn't care enough to make minor and cheap changes. I felt disposable. I had been injured, my mental health had been made worse to the point of suicide and yet I was made to feel it was my fault. How can it be my fault for hitting targets, asking for help and reasonable adjustments while trying to keep on ever increasing piles of work?

And yet, as shocking as my story might be, it is not a one-off. Stress and other mental health problems are the second biggest cause of sickness absence, accounting for 70 million lost working days every year.

 In 2016 the family of Dr Rose Polge, 25, called for action to halt the "crisis" affecting trainee doctors after she went missing and took her own life. According to the BBC she is one of three Junior Doctors to go missing or take their own lives related to their employment. One anesthetist wrote on the British Medical Journal website that "Just as safety is everyone's business, so is safeguarding friends & colleagues." 

Meanwhile, a Psychiatrist from Wales wrote:"Every suicide is a potentially preventable tragedy. Each one of my medical school reunions is marked by ...  our fellow med students who are no longer with us - we have lost more to suicide than for any other reason"

My story is just one of the 15,000 in this research that show this 'disposable' use of humans isn't limited to the medical profession or to office workers; it's an epidemic.
The research, which comes from a survey of 15,000 employees across 30 organisations, is released as Mind urges employers to sign up to the Workplace Wellbeing Index 2017/18. 
The new data from Mind also shows that men are less prepared to seek help and take time off than women. Alarmingly it suggests that although men are more likely to have mental health problems because of their job, women are more likely to open up and seek support from their line manager or employer.

In the end, I took the company to employment tribunal through ACAS but settled before the first hearing. By this point, it was months after ending up on long-term sick and having my pay cut off, I needed the money. Yet all of this, including my ongoing mental health issues, could have been prevented if the adjustments recommended by the company's Doctor weren't ignored or if the ideas in the Workplace Wellbeing Index were adopted.
(Workplace Wellbeing Index) is a benchmark of best policy and practice when it comes to staff mental health, designed to celebrate the good work employers are doing and to provide key recommendations on the specific areas where there is room to improve.

How can forcing Male staff to suicide make business sense when mental health costs employers £30billion PER YEAR?
For every 80p spent on Mental Health promotion, it has been shown to save £4 on costs (sick pay, tribunals, HR interventions, lost business). According to Mind's 2016/2017 Index, 10% of employees rated their current mental health as currently poor or very poor. Over a quarter said this was due to problems at work, not home.

Thirty organisations have joined the previous Index including the Environment Agency, Jaguar Land Rover, PepsiCo, Deloitte and Barnardo’s. Mind is now calling on forward thinking employers who want a thriving workforce rather than a barely surviving one to sign up and join these companies in the 2017/2018 Index.

If you are an unconvinced Manager or without-heart in HR, then look at the figures - can you afford not to join the Index?
Employers can find out more at

Matt Streuli is blogger and Actor based in Iver Heath, on the edge of West London. Read more of his story and what happened next by clicking here.

 with thanks to Claire Bennett at Mind's media team. 
For interviews with Mind or myself, please contact the Mind Media Team on 0208 522 1743 or email

  • Mind, the mental health charity, provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. They won't give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets both support and respect. I'm proud to be a member.
  • Mind has a confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 (lines open 9am - 6pm, Monday – Friday)
  • In a crisis: Samaritans are open 24/7. Call free from any phone on 116 123

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Why can't you Counsel yourself?

If I was counselling someone else I would of said it, so why didn't I say it?
Emotions can seriously hinder OR enhance your capacity, success and logic. I've derived this all from "you shouldn't apologise for how you feel".

You are never wrong for feeling how you do. You might feel it and then find out the cause (what you heard, or meant) was in error. You might even learn they didn't mean to say or imply what she did. Even so, it was hard for my logical mind to change my emotional heart; I feel anger, hurt untrusted and oddly guilty.

I often wonder, after observing others, am I the only one who feels such guilt? Have you felt that?
If everyone else felt such guilt about upsetting people, even when they have right to feel hurt themselves, then wars and the pettiest of arguments wouldn't never come be.

When it comes to a dispute, I still feel anger and hurt and enormous guilt so I'd much rather crawl back and grovel. Even after all this time its somehow easier sacrificing how I feel and its cause so I can end the pain and make everyone else ok. But then, I could argue that that maybe if I'm the only one feeling great guilt over it, then it is unlikely they feel the same great pain I do. Surely if they felt the same pain they would feel the same guilt over upsetting someone? - Cause and effect?

Just by reading that last paragraph you can see why we shouldn't counsel ourselves.

Right now there is someone I think a great deal of having this internal monologue. I've had it many times. Yes, taking all the blame even if it isn't your fault, is the easy option. But that option will eat away at you and slow burn you from the inside out. It will pollute how you see, feel and interact in the world. The right option is honesty. The right option is standing your ground, holding your morals and defending yourself. You are loved and deserve the real love of a good person - not the murky waters you're settling for.

For those of you who like to put everything in writing, so you can plan and think your feelings, then I recommend contacting the email team of the Samaritans.

Oh my blessed relief, I crave you.
A tiny flinch and that combustion is released: a pool forms
and with a wipe, I'm briefly fine.


Sunday, 18 June 2017

June 2017 Collage

Each month on my re-booted blog, I'm collating a collage.

Get a custom-message Sweet Jar full of your favourites!
Click here to buy from my ebay
I'm going to show a selection of things from my radar and throwback to past posts on my blog. Comment with your favourite and with your suggestions for next month's collage

#ProudChairman   #Where'sMyOBE

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Back to Blog : Reboot V.2017

I knew my Childhood wasn't normal but I certainly didn't dwell on it. Children don't. They can be a lot stronger and more adaptable than we realise, depending on their age and how it is explained to them. My mother was an alcoholic.

What was a typical day like as a child? Well I got up and went to school. I've never needed a parent to wake me, did it all myself. Couldn't really be bothered with breakfast but I acted old enough to get to school and nag myself to do homework or clean the house.

I was her sole carer until she died when I was 13.

Flash forward to June 2015 and I tried to kill myself. Depression has been an ongoing symptom of my battle with mental health and the discrimination and stigma I have faced, mostly in the workplace, has only exacerbated the problem.

The main cause of my suicide attempt was stress and workload at work, since we had lost several members of staff without them being replaced, but the trigger was an incident at work where I defended someone I 'saw' as vulnerable but I came under attack. Without consciously knowing it, I needed to look after that vulnerable person just as I did when I was the sole carer for my Mother between the ages of 8 (my Step-Mum says it was when I was 10) and 13. She died from alcoholism. My 'damaged' hardware and software of my mind crashed.

I lasted just over 3 months. The trigger was when I brought something to the attention of my Senior Manager and challenged him, just like we are always being told to. I told him he had offended some of the staff and he replied with "I don't care". It set off the same cascade failure we had seen a few months earlier except this time, I asked for help. When I told that same manager I had been signed off due to work he replied "No one else has a problem." He even tried to convince me to resign. I've seen GPs, my NHS psychologist, I've spoken with solicitors and legal teams at Citizens Advice Bureau and ACAS as well as the fantastic team at MIND. He discriminated against me, I assume because of my disability.

I self harmed because of him. They knowingly exacerbated my condition. If I didn't ask for help they would have my blood on their hands.

In the end, with thanks to ACAS, I took the company to an employment tribunal but settled before the first hearing. Part of me wishes I held out just to have my ‘day in court’ but by this point, months after I ended up on long-term sick and having my pay cut off, I needed the money. I went from taken 100+ phone calls a day, handling orders in excess of £1m to being unable to make or take phone calls and crying when trying to handle basic paperwork.

Almost Two years on I am so much better than when I tried to kill myself, I am will always suffer anxiety and depression linked to my condition (Borderline Personality Disorder).

I then saw a job offer as a Lollipop Man. Perfect.
Stop Means Stop!
 Failing to stop for a Lollipop Man or Lady is a £1000 fine and 3pts
A great way to get me out the house, give me reason to wake up and avoid the risks of an office. It hasn’t been easy – I’ve been sworn at, had cars swerve round me and I was even hit by a courier van in February 2017 – but in the last year I’ve become a Teaching Assistant, re-met an old school friend and fell in love with her. MADLY in love. She moved in with me, taken care of me and I proposed to her on New Years 2017. She has given me hope in life and love. We've had a few explosive adventures! The council has given me hope in employers again and being one of two male staff at the school has given me a lot of lovely caring mother figures – I can’t get away with anything!

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter  -  @MattStreuli
I should also mention how amazing my drama club has been - giving me love and care of a family of friends as well as a way of self-exploration and desperately needed distraction.

Despite being busy with road safety and school work, I still write and I aim to reboot this blog. Over the 2 years, I've produced YouTube videos and I have even taken part in Public Speaking to the MoD with Time To Change to actively encourage everyone to speak out and seek help in an attempt to fight the frightening suicide rate, despite my ongoing depression and anxiety. I even help with shortlisting for the Mind Media Awards – this will be my second year. I've even appeared in The Guardian and written for HuffPost.

I might be a lot poorer than when I worked in that office, but I am happier and physically healthier than ever before.

BELOW are links to some favourite posts of my past blog. Every view and share is really appreciated. 
When I looked at my friend sat on the kerb, I didn't see her. Just how am I to describe it? A hallucination? A flashback? It was like watching a film and suddenly the actress playing my friend was swapped with the one playing my dead mother, but I was the only one who could see it. Why did my head decide this was a helpful thing? 
 It makes me feel I have achieved something and I'm not failing at life. Having a disability means I'm succeeding in survival.