@NHS from 13/05/19 to 17/05/19
Twitter handle: @ThoughtifyLtd
Patient/Carer or NHS Staff: Patient
Condition or job title: Managing Director
Place of treatment/care or workplace: London
Tom Fox spent several years in the British Army as an infantry soldier, and then as a military contractor working for the United States Government in Iraq, before settling down and starting successful careers in the Financial Services and IT sectors.
In 2015 Tom was diagnosed with Chronic Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by a leading psychiatrist specialising in military mental health. The psychiatrist explained to Tom that over the years he had developed some very successful coping mechanisms that had allowed him to manage his mental health, and which had masked his illness for a long time. These coping mechanisms produced a strong feeling of the need to succeed, to over perform, and to overwork, but in the end led to Tom becoming seriously ill.
“Eventually my coping mechanisms gave way and my brain finally just said enough is enough. One day I had a fantastic job with a great company and great career prospects. The next day I was sitting in a room with a psychiatrist wondering what had gone wrong with my mind, why I couldn’t work, and how I was going to support my family”.
Tom’s own experience encouraged him to learn more about mental health, how mental ill health is affecting employees in the UK and the knock-on effect this is having on UK business. This in turn inspired Tom to start the company Thoughtify Ltd.
“Looking back at my own situation, I know now that with a little bit of prior education about mental health, either I or a colleague at work could have easily spotted the signs that I was unwell, and I could have gone and got the right support to manage my illness at a much earlier stage. If that had of happened, then I would never have got to the point where going to work became an impossibility”.
Training such as Mental Health First Aid can help employees to remain mentally healthy at work and help them to spot and support a colleague that may be experiencing issues with their mental health at an early stage.
“Because of my background I’d always thought of myself as being mentally tough and resilient. I’ve been there, seen it, done it, and got the medal, so I know that if it can happen to me then it can happen to anyone. None of us are immune to mental ill health because it just doesn’t discriminate, and therefore we all need to speak openly about it at all levels in business”.
Tom is an Associate Corporate Trainer and Plenary speaker for Mental Health First Aid MHFA England. He is also an Associate Instructor for The Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS), and The British Safety Council (BSC).
Tom is honoured to be an ambassador for two of Britain’s oldest military charities, SSAFA and Combat Stress.
Tom sits on two NHS Mental Health Working Groups that work with the NHS Director for Armed Forces & Justice, Kate Davies CBE and her team to help direct policy and service commissioning.