A dad-of-two from Ellesmere Port has bravely opened up about how he almost tried to commit suicide because he thought his wife and new baby would be better off without him.
Paul Bannister was running a mental health support group for his colleagues at North West Ambulance Service while he was struggling with his own depression.
Now the 37-year-old, who is an emergency medical technician, has shared his story as part of a campaign by charity Mind called Blue Light, which encourages people who work for the emergency services to open up about their mental health issues.
Paul is recovering well and back doing the job he loves, after six months off and treatment in a hospital psychiatric ward, our sister paper The Liverpool Echo reports.
He said: “It was a mix of the job and my family life. I was working 100 hours of overtime a month to keep a roof over our heads, as I was the main wage earner after we had our second baby.
“It spiralled from there. I ran myself down - I was physically exhausted and next to useless. It made things worse at work as I felt like I couldn’t do it. I was getting down, depressed and ratty.
“Once when I was driving down the road thinking about which tree to crash into, I pulled over. I called a doctor who said ‘come straight to me’.
“I was in the Countess of Chester voluntarily. They and my work have been fantastic - my work phoned regularly to make sure I was okay.
“My wife and two kids have been absolutely amazing, and the other Blue Light champions.”
He said his experiences helped him in his voluntary role leading a team of 'Blue Light champions', a group of ambulance staff who colleagues can talk to about mental health.
He added: “One in four emergency service personnel admit to having a mental health problem, which is quite scary.
"As our chief executive said, there’s a culture of ‘you know what you signed up for’, there will be traumatic jobs and you have to suck it up and take it.
“But just because we are in a green uniform doesn’t make us invincible.”
Staff in the North West Ambulance Service, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority and Merseyside Police shared their experiences of mental health problems in a longer version of the film above created by Wirral Mind, which you can see here.
For mental health support you can contact Samaritans on 116 123.