Meet our Mental Health First Aiders: Paula Marcantonio

This month for Mental Health Awareness Week, we want to take the opportunity to introduce you to the fab Mental Health First Aiders we have here at HOME. This week is the turn of Paula Marcantonio, our Senior Copywriter.

Why did you first want to be trained up as a MHFA?

My mum died when I was 17. I didn’t talk about it for 10 years and the grief caught up with me in the form of panic attacks, chronic fatigue, agoraphobia before finally being diagnosed with mild depression. I didn’t get it – how I could be ‘depressed’ when I was happy with my life. But once I opened up, I got better. It was that simple, so I’m incredibly passionate about the power of talking to someone. It works.

How do you think people’s attitude towards mental health is changing and how would you like to see it continue to develop?

I knew things had changed when I started at HOME, and I read that lovely notice on the back of the loo door about the MHFA’s. Then a whole week was devoted to Mental Health Awareness Week – I was just amazed (and don’t get me started on those giant pink donuts!!!!)

Years ago, I worked at an agency where the company went through three mergers in one year. People were being fired every week and the ones that didn’t were dropping like flies with anxiety-related illnesses. But no-one ever mentioned the term ‘mental health’. It was just an embarrassing thing that you would never own up to in case you got the sack! I would love to see mental health normalised, so people had the confidence to just say, “I think I’m struggling”. Those four words are the answer.

Is there anyone you think is worth following in the mental health space?

I find a lot of mental health stuff a bit heavy, so I love it when someone lightens things up. Beth Evans is an illustrator/writer who does these ace scribbles that just normalise the jumbled-up thoughts most of us have.

How do you switch off from work?

I have to go for a walk straight after work to clear my head and get into mum-mode. I read books that take me out of my own head. I’m addicted to dystopian future novels – the weirder the better. Just read one called The Power, about women suddenly having the power to electrocute people… It’s mad!

What’s a simple pleasure that brings you joy?

Walking on Ilkley Moors, running, just getting outside and shaking up my body. Endorphins are magical things.

Written by:

Georgia Preston Senior Marketing Executive


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