Breaking Stigma in the Workplace: Amy's Story
18 January 2024
This blog mentions topics that may be upsetting, including depression, suicidal thoughts and eating disorders. For anyone who may be struggling, the Samaritans is open 24/7 for emotional support if you need to talk.
Meet Amy Nathan, our Tenancy Enforcement Manager and co-leader of the Mental Health Community within our Inclusion and Belonging colleague network. Amy is committed to breaking down stigma and creating a safe space for others to share their experiences. She shares her own inspiring journey, shedding light on the challenges she has overcome and the lessons she has learned along the way.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one
“When I was 11 my Dad passed away after being ill for many years. Although you could say it was expected, I thought (like many kids) that my Dad was infallible and would always pull through. Sadly, this wasn’t the case and he passed away on the one night that my Mum came home from the hospital to be with us. The guilt that this left me with took over and my whole world broke down.
“I felt like I had no control and so the one thing that I could control was my eating. Within four months, I had stopped eating and gone down to two and a half stone. My life felt like purgatory and I didn’t want to carry on. It was at this point that I considered taking my own life and I was only 12.
“Given the severe weight loss, I was extremely ill and frail. I collapsed shortly after from what they thought was malnutrition and was quickly admitted into hospital with anorexia nervosa. This was the same pattern for many years. I was in and out of hospitals and I had naso-gastric tubes fitted for tube feeding.
“As a result, school was a really bad time for me, and I was constantly ridiculed when on day release from hospital. Kids can be horrible, but often the parents were even worse. As you can imagine, trying to work whilst being so ill and in hospital was nigh impossible. Especially when I was so weak to the point that I could not even lift the page on a book or write my name.
“Then came university and sadly, mental health was still not spoken about. I very nearly got thrown off my course due to the way I looked and acted. Luckily, I managed to finish university without further admissions. However, I was still really struggling. I looked skeletal and was mentally very unwell.
“After university, I interviewed with Places for People and was offered the job. I was absolutely shocked and so was my Mum knowing how I looked. However, Places for People saw past that and gave me a chance. I have been here ever since.
“It took me at least another 10 years before I started to actually live again and not just exist. I have always struggled with the anorexia and it is always going to be a part of me. Things flare up in certain situations and lockdown was hard. However, what I have been through has made me the person I am today.
“One of the big things for me was feeling as though I could not speak about the anorexia and my mental health at work. This is why I felt really passionate about joining the Mental Health Community in the Inclusion and Belonging group and volunteering as a lead.
“I try to be very open about anorexia and mental health as I believe that my experiences may be able to help others in one way or another. It’s also a means of educating others and raising awareness on how to approach and help those who may be struggling.”
Opening up the conversation in Places for People
“Mental health was taboo for so long. I would say it was only around lockdown that more and more people began to speak out about how they were struggling. I saw a massive shift in people’s attitudes, and within our organisation and society as a whole.
“The Mental Health Community is so important for continuing this journey and creating an inclusive space for all, regardless of whether the individual has suffered or is suffering from a mental health issue. It’s also a means of ensuring that we all feel a sense of belonging.
“I want to empower people so they feel able to speak out and ask for help. I want to open up the conversation to make mental health a topic that we all speak about without any repercussions.
“As a subgroup, we’ll be looking at ways we can do this as an organisation – for example, by making our Mental Health First Aiders more accessible, or by learning from external organisations to better support our colleagues. If we look at anorexia as an example, there are some great resources from SEED.”
What wellbeing in the workplace means to Amy
“For me, Colleagues’ wellbeing is an all-round picture of the mental, physical, emotional, and economic health for everyone. I think that as co-lead in the Mental Health Community, I can play an important role in making sure this message gets out there.
“Wellbeing in the workplace is also making sure we have the right procedures and policies in place to support our colleagues at work. With more and more people working from home or hybrid, we need to make sure our policies and procedures reflect this.”
Amy’s journey serves as a powerful testament to the transformative potential of resilience and compassion. Through her role as co-leader of the Mental Health Community, she continues to champion inclusivity, sparking conversations that illuminate the path to collective well-being at Places for People.
Read more stories from our Customers and People in their own words.
#WeAreCommunity #PeopleStories #BreakingStigmas #MentalHealthMatters