Emergency Dispatcher Ben Hawkins has been working for the Ambulance Service for four years

It’s something he always wanted to do.

But 10 months ago he reached as dark a place as is possible to reach. He was struggling with his mental health and if it wasn’t for a friend, he wouldn’t be here now.

Ben’s story will be familiar to many colleagues in the NHS, social care and other keyworkers who are currently on the Covid-19 frontline and who may be struggling under similar mental health pressures.

The Keeping Well Service is here to support health and care workers including staff providing care to others in the community, such as in residential homes and voluntary sector organisations through any mental health challenges they are facing during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and beyond.

The service provides rapid access to support in a variety of ways, including a safe and secure ‘live-chat’ where health and care workers can, in confidence, talk to expert clinicians about any personal or professional challenges that are impacting on their stress, anxiety or mood. This could be new mental health symptoms or a worsening of pre-existing difficulties.

In a video produced for The Ambulance Service Charity, Ben describes the time when he attempted suicide and why people should always seek wellbeing support if they are struggling with their mental health.


He was already struggling with his mental health due to a tough break-up and trolls on social media who were saying nasty things about him.

But rather than admit to problems, Ben battled on until one day he took a call from the brother of a friend and colleague.

 Ben says: “Unfortunately, his brother called me whilst I was on a training course and said to me, ‘I’m really sorry but they’ve found Luke’s car.’ That’s when it was too much and I felt physically sick. I felt like I had let him down. I felt like I should have done more. That’s probably something we all feel when something like that happens.”

Rather than allow himself time to grieve, Ben took just one day off before coming back into work. The day after he took a call from someone threatening to commit suicide.

“After that call that’s when I hit rock bottom,” says Ben, “I kept up this front but I couldn’t keep up the front any longer and that’s when I decided that suicide was the only way.

“If it wasn’t for one of my good friends I wouldn’t be here today.”

“I’m not quite there yet but I’ve been receiving help for 10 months and I’m going to get there but what’s really important is that we do talk about mental health.

“It’s not embarrassing and it doesn’t make me weak. It actually makes me stronger because I can talk about it so please if you’re suffering, please get some help.”     

Time to Talk Day takes place on February 4.   

We're here for you. You can start receiving help and support immediately by:

  • Using our live chat feature for an informal chat
  • Calling 0300 123 1705 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
  • Emailing: keepingwell.nwl@nhs.net


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