Waterlooville dad who tried to take his own life starts mental health training business
A DAD and former police officer who tried to take his own life has spoken out about the pressures he was under and how that caused him to spiral into depression.
Dan Darwin, from Waterlooville has shared his story in a bid to help others and he is turning his experience into a positive – by setting up his own business offering mental health training.
The 41-year-old said: ‘When you join the police, you’re expected to be tough and to not show any signs of vulnerability, as it is seen as a weakness.
‘It got to the point where I felt like I was wearing a mask every day at work and when I came home, I didn’t know how to be the person behind the mask.
‘A lot of people don’t know how to talk about it, so they don’t. The problem with that is that if you bottle things up, they will come out sooner or later.’
Dad-of-three Dan began his journey into recovery after attempting to take his own life, and shortly after left his job at Hampshire Constabulary and turned his attention to the training courses.
He said: ‘I was a police officer, I joined in 2007.
‘I had never had any issues with mental health that I knew of but in 2010 I started to suffer badly and I went to the doctors.
‘I had never really opened up. I always found a way of disguising it or hiding it to just get enough support to keep myself ticking over.
‘I realised I was struggling. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and had some time off but it got worse.
‘Then my life changed in 2018, I was going through a divorce, there was a lot of stuff going on externally and in March 2018 I attempted to take my own life.
‘Luckily, I was not successful and I am still here to talk about. That’s the reasoning behind me starting this business – to get the mental health message out into the workplace. I don’t want people to suffer like I did.’
Dan is hoping to help people talk about mental health through his new company, Darwin Training Solutions.
He set up the business, which offers mental health training to other firms, in January 2020.
The courses range from half-day sessions to help teams notice the signs of mental illness in employees and colleagues, to full mental health first aid courses to ensure each workplace has a person who knows what to do and say in the instance of someone showing signs of distress.
He launched the courses to give companies and individuals the tools and knowledge he feels many are lacking.
Dan said: ‘People ask “are you ok?” but they don’t want an honest answer because they don’t know how to respond without saying the wrong thing, so we don’t ever answer honestly, and it’s turned into just a greeting now.
‘I want to create environments where people know how to spot signs and symptoms and are equipped with the ability to offer support to their colleagues without judgement. It’s a ripple effect and if one person feels comfortable talking, then the people they talk to will too and it builds from there.’
He encouraged people who are struggling to seek help.
He said: ‘The hardest thing to do is to talk about, and to admit it, that you are struggling. But that’s the first step.
‘Our brain puts these emotions out there for us to be able to cope with that period of time, but when we start to dwell on that for two to three weeks, that’s when you need to find support – go to see a GP, text a friend, speak out, anyway you can, to get that support you need.’
To listen to a podcast featuring Dan’s story go to anchor.fm/hope-mckellar/episodes/I-tried-to-take-my-own-life---now-Im-getting-people-talking-about-mental-health-er41fv/a-a4mhh0c
If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article you can talk to your GP, phone 111 or text SHOUT to 85258.