This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. Learn more

"My hope for the future is that mental health becomes a natural part of conversation" an interview with Sanchia Constance

By Sanchia Constance (She/Her), Data Analyst, Quality Data Team, GSK

My Story

This is me, my name is Sanchia, I work on GSK’s lead new product and manufacturing site in Hertfordshire. Currently, I work in the Quality Data team. We’re in charge of laboratory data set up and management, supporting the release of medication to patients with conditions such as HIV, Cancer and COPD.

In addition to my day to day role, I sit on both the UK Leadership team for our LGBTQ+ employee resource group (Spectrum) as the Health and Wellbeing lead, and the site committee for our Disability Confidence Network.

Things haven’t been the easiest for me, I had struggled with undiagnosed low mood and anxiety on and off for over a decade. I had never been to a doctor for a diagnosis as I always believed that because I could pull myself out of my low moods, it just wasn’t “bad” enough to seek help. That was until things came to a head around April last year. I just couldn’t seem to get out of the dark hole I felt that I was in. Eventually, after much encouragement from my partner and my mum, I booked an appointment with my GP in August. She took me through the diagnosis tools and told me I was suffering from depression and anxiety. I remember having plans that evening and cancelling them as I was distraught by the diagnosis. Even though I knew that I was suffering from these mental health illnesses, it was a whole new feeling having them confirmed by someone else.

The following day I approached my manager to discuss my diagnosis. I was nervous to talk to her about it as I wasn’t sure what to expect, having heard about the negative stereotypes that can be placed on people who are open about mental health issues in the workplace. I was overwhelmed by her immediate response of “what can I do to help?” I didn’t know how to reply at the time, because I didn’t know how to manage it myself, but it was a relief to know that she was there if I needed anything. There were several occasions over the following months where I would be struggling with restlessness or shaking due to anxiety, or I would be so far down a black hole of depression that I would put my headphones on and ignore everyone all day. On these days, my manager noticed my behaviour and asked me if I needed a break, a walk or even to go home. When I started Cognitive Behaviour therapy, she was really accommodating and allowed me to fit the sessions around my workday, giving me an afternoon off to attend them where I needed to. She even sourced some manager training on mental health and wellbeing so she could better understand and prepare herself for the situation. There was nothing but support and flexibility from her, and I hugely appreciated it.

The UK LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall reports that 52% of LGBTQ+ people have experienced depression in the last year. If you compare that to the 1 in 4 (25%) people reported by the charity MIND, you can clearly see why LGBTQ+ mental health needs to be a big focus. Therefore, I hope that by working with both the LGBTQ+ and Disability groups within GSK, we can improve understanding of mental health and wellbeing with a particular focus on LGBTQ+ people.


Going through this experience has given me a drive and passion to help others going through similar issues, so I’ve included a few tips for both staff and employers on how to support those that need it.


What can you do to look after your mental health in the workplace?

  • If you feel you can, talk to your manager. It may also be helpful to see if your organisation has any training for management on how to manage employees who are struggling with mental health, and then share it with your manager.
  • Check out any resource groups or support networks your company may have. They are a great way to meet people who can provide a listening ear on a peer to peer basis, as well as individuals going through similar issues. You may find you can help each other.
  • If there are no resource groups or support networks and you feel passionate and brave, create one. I can guarantee you, someone within your organisation will find it as helpful as you will.
  • If you have a job that could be done remotely, explore the option of working from home once a week. One day where you don’t have to go into the office and “pretend” that everything is fine just to get through your day can be amazing for your mental health. Being surrounded by comfort and in your own space can work wonders in boosting your mood.
  • Ask for help. Open conversation is so important, it’s the only way you can start to get the support you need. Remember: everything starts with a conversation.

What can you, as employers/managers, do to better support staff and their mental health?

  • Open the conversation and be approachable. A lot of great charities like MIND in the UK offer training for companies to help increase the understanding of mental health and wellbeing, as well as how to manage mental health in the workplace.
  • Be flexible, it is more effective and cost-productive for companies to allow their employees to work from home every now and then, or to have the ability to take a break from duties, than it is to have staff be signed off by a doctor. In the current climate, many office-based workers have found useful work-arounds to be able to perform their roles from home.
  • Have healthy expectations. Hold regular discussions to see if your workload is manageable and sustainable. Most people won’t speak up until it’s too late.
  • Learn from past examples. I can’t stress enough how much there is to learn from past experiences. If the current situation with Covid-19 has shown us anything, it is that every challenge is a learning opportunity that we can use to advise us on what we can do better next time.
  • Work with your employee resource groups, they are there to help support staff. Also make sure that any which may have overlapping priorities are able to work together to provide the best support for your staff.
  • Start the conversation early. If you notice someone struggling, give them the opportunity to talk. They may be too anxious to approach you and ask for help. Remember: everything starts with a conversation.


What’s next?

My hope for the future is that mental health becomes a natural part of conversation. To be able to be open with mental health as we are about having the flu, or a headache would be amazing. To reduce the unconscious bias and stigma that people associate with ill mental health is a challenge, but a journey that I’m excited and hopeful to be part of.

Sanchia is one of the speakers at myGwork's event to raise awareness of the mental health issues that LGBTQ+ people face in the workplace. Scheduled to take place on 11 May 2022 at 4pm BST, LGBTQ+ professionals will talk about their own experiences with mental health, along with practical steps and advice to improve the mental health of individuals and the LGBTQ+ community at work. Click here to sign up and register for free.

Share this

myGwork is best used with the app