Lee's story

The below article has been sent into us by Portsmouth International Port, who issued the article internally in November 2022. It focuses on men’s mental health and provides a case study from one of their team, Lee. It is an open and honest view of the struggles that he has faced and his road to recovery.

Men’s mental health month

November is men’s mental health month. Recognised by the Movember campaign, the month focuses on the statistic that on average men die 4.5 years earlier than women, and that this is largely preventable. The number of men taking their own lives around the world is one of the biggest challenges we face, and this is not just by generation, the population with the highest frequency of deaths by suicide is middle-aged men.

Approaching mental health is not a one size fits all response but breaking down the stigma and opening up conversations can help everyone find the support they need.

Security supervisor Lee Benfield has written about his own personal experience with mental health and wanted it to be shared with the whole port to encourage anyone struggling to just talk – a breakthrough that saved him.

We are very grateful to Lee for sharing his story and hope you can take the time to read it.

Lee’s story

This content mentions suicide or suicidal thoughts. Please read with care. There are details of where to find help at the bottom of this page.

Many of us will have taken a few days off to recover from winter colds and coughs throughout our working life, particularly in the last couple of years – but how many would admit to needing time off to recover from an anxiety attack or depression?

Mental health problems make everyday life difficult, just as much as physical problems can, and yet not enough people who struggle with poor mental health are getting the help and support they need.

I was first diagnosed with clinical depression in my mid-teens, and then with generalised anxiety disorder a few years later. I am in my 50’s now and have struggled with my mental health for most of my adult life. I’ve gone through periods of extreme highs, being happy and on top of life to times where I could barely function, to the point where I have tried to take my own life, twice.

The one thing that defined most of those bad years was the inability to talk to somebody else, outside of my GP, about my mental health and how I was feeling. Unfortunately, I know I am not alone in this. For as long as I can remember people have told me to just “man up” whenever I’ve seemed low, and just get on with it.

Six years ago, I decided to be open about my mental health issues. I was terrified, and unsure whether I was making the right choice, but I knew that carrying on as I was would eventually kill me. So, I started talking, to friends, family and my colleagues. I wanted them to see that it’s ok for men to talk openly about how they feel and prove to myself that my feelings were valid and understood.

Mental Health Support