I work at Norseman House, East ACC and am now an MPDS Auditor (reviewing emergency calls) after 5 years as an Emergency Call Handler. I also work in private practice as a person-centred counsellor. I love both my jobs, and find they both require me to prioritise my own mental health.
As a counsellor, one of the requirements of my own membership/accrediting body is that I do this, and I have plenty of support. At the Ambulance Service, until fairly recently, mental health has largely been swept under the carpet and has often felt like something I had to handle alone and almost in secret. When I had to take time off with work-related stress in the past, I felt ashamed that I needed this. It's great to see things have changed and are changing, and it feels ok now to be more honest about how we are feeling, and I'm pleased to see the Service having the confidence to try new things to support ourselves and each other.
Deacon Michael Ross
I have been in the Ambulance Service for 17 Years, 13 of which I was based in the North East of Scotland. Currently I am a Paramedic at Huntly Station. I have recently returned from a Secondment to the Sandpiper Trust where I was responsible for the Sandpiper Wildcat Project. Prior to that I was also in the reserve pool for Helimed 2, assisting with shifts as and when required. In a former life I worked for the RAF. repatriating injured soldiers from Afghanistan during Op Telic. It is this wide and varied experience that has really exposed me to how front line emergency work affects people in different ways and how important it is to look out for each other and that has brought me to this blog.
Outside of Work I am married with two young children, so forever juggling the work/home life balance.
I recently moved to the Service from North West Ambulance Service. In 2018 I won an ITV NHS Heroes Award after setting up the a Campaign that helps those in his profession suffering from PTSD. I am also the author of 999: My Life on the Frontline of the ambulance service and a fellowship of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.
My name is Darren and I work in West ACC, and I suffer from depression and anxiety.
I feel so you understand my story I should explain a bit of my family background.
I lived with my gran who adopted me from birth, she was my mum and will always be referred to as such. I still see my biological mother, but she is more an aunt to me. She gave birth to two children after me, one girl and one boy.
I have never known my father. I don't even know who he is or his name.
Mental health issues had been quite prominent in my family for some time, for example, experiences with alcoholism in my immediate family, to bipolar/depression in other members of my family. While these affected other members of my family, I never thought I'd end up experiencing any mental health difficulties.
Then a multitude of things happened in my life over a short space of time that shook me. From the death of a close friend in a motorcycle accident, to the declining health of mum, the suicide of my little brother, my own physical ill health, marrying my wife but unable to live with her because I essentially became a full time carer to my mum while juggling full time work. My life was a rollercoaster.
One night on dispatch, my mind gave up. I had to admit defeat. A few nights previously I was sick and stressed and couldn't put my finger on why. Fast forward a few nights then I had to go outside for fresh air. my head was spinning. I was sick. I was shaking. I couldn't think straight. I had to admit defeat.
Truth be told it was the culmination of burying a lot of little things and not properly dealing with things. But this was the start of recognising that things weren't ok.
I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. And a lot of how I felt started to finally make sense.
Reverend Dr Michael Killoran Ross has been appointed as the Chaplain to the Service. Deacon Michael is a Permanent Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church, and divides his time between the Scottish Ambulance Service and Parish responsibilities in St Bride’s Parish, East Kilbride. Formerly a Consultant Clinical Psychologist/Head of Psychological Therapies in NHS Lanarkshire, Deacon Michael retired from the NHS in late-2018. Born and raised in Canada, Deacon Michael has lived in Scotland for thirty years and now proudly considers Scotland ‘home’. He is married and is the father of two children, both of whom are currently completing University.