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A fighting chance with Knock Out Depression

IMOW – Knockout Depression

A Community is only as healthy as its people. That's why we invest in our Customers and Colleagues through a range of Wellbeing services. One of those services is Knock Out Depression (KOD).  

The main aim of the programme is to help people to better understand and manage depression. As we enter Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 13 May to Sun, 19 May 2024, we're shining a spotlight on this vital initiative. Throughout this week, we'll be sharing stories, resources, and opportunities for engagement to spread awareness and support for mental health . 

Paul Sanderson, Area Healthy Communities Manager at Places Leisure, who runs the programme shared: 

“The main reason I am so passionate about this course and the support is because I have battled with depression for 20-odd years and now I am in a place where I want to fight the stigma, I want to normalise mental health struggles and support everyone. 

“Our group runs as a safe space. People share what they want and as I run the group, I will always put myself outside my comfort zone and speak about my experiences.  Even recently I mentioned about the inner voice in your head and how it can be negative. I thought I was being silly but then three other people in the group said they were the same... that made me feel normal.”

We recently caught up with one attendee of this initiative and the incredible impact this programme has had on them: 

“As someone that has suffered from depression and anxiety since I was 15, and trying what feels like every medication under the sun, I have been looking for ways to cope without the dependency of medicines.

“When I first heard about KOD, I was slightly sceptical. Not because I didn’t think it was a good idea, but because I worried about being vulnerable in the workplace. I can be quite quiet and reserved and the thought of opening the wormhole to my brain and fears is a terrifying thought. After spending many years searching for solutions, this really wears a person down and my coping mechanism is to just bottle it up and power through. I hate talking about myself as I don’t want to burden anyone else with my baggage.

“After the first session, this worry went out the window. It was so lovely to come together with new Colleagues as well as those that you work with every day and realise that the feelings that you have questioned for years are “normal” and are not just a version of self-sabotage. It was also lovely to see managers and senior leadership team members being open and honest and sharing their stories without judgment. It really is a totally “safe space” which is something I haven’t really had in a work setting before.  
“The boxing element is a really clever way to depict mental health and as much as the physical element is beneficial, the webinars are also extremely useful to share ideas and coping strategies.
“Before the second session, I was having a really busy, frustrating and manic day and questioned whether to continue working or take the time out to attend the session. I chose to attend the session as I “really needed to hit something”. My Colleagues all came together- no questions asked, and I felt the full embrace of support that I really needed during that time. I am extremely grateful for that! I was actually quite emotional after the talk about not being able to help others if you are pouring from an empty cup, and that was exactly how I was feeling at that point in time. I felt heard even though I hadn’t shared anything.
“I was pleasantly surprised that a workplace would allow staff two hours during the working day to do an activity that involves personal mental health development. I regularly start work early, finish work late and work through my lunches as well as having two active kids, very rarely find time that doesn’t involve being a taxi service or maid. These two hours, once a week are MY time and I make sure that I am committed to that and don’t allow workload to interfere. This has been a tough and major mindset change for me.
“I am gutted to have missed one week due to having a chest infection, but I genuinely look forward a Tuesday to be surrounded by genuine, honest and awesome people that I trust to be myself around. I am already feeling sad that this is only mapped for six weeks and believe that all staff members, even if they don’t suffer from poor mental health, could benefit from it.” 

Join us as we champion mental health and provide a fighting chance with Knock Out Depression.

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Read more heart-warming stories from our Customers and People

We hope you found this story inspirational. If you would like to read more stories from around the Places for People organisation, check out more of our In My Own Words stories.  

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