A PARAMEDIC that has spoken about his battle with depression has won an award for his work of raising awareness of mental health issues.

George Hassell from Blackwood won the Pride of Gwent 999 Award for the honest and open way he has shared how he has coped with the depression which left him suicidal.

He said: “I am really humbled by the award. I didn’t expect anything like this.”

He works as a rapid response paramedic for the Welsh Ambulance Service and has experienced some dark times, partially due to the pressure of work.

Speaking about his depression he said he first noticed the signs in 2011 but says things had built up over time as the job became more and more pressurised.

“I was getting more irritable,” he said. “Then a colleague said wrong thing at wrong time and I came home in tears. I was so upset that I contemplated killing myself. I was just numb.”

His wife Lisa, who was his girlfriend at the time, gave Mr Hassell an ultimatum as his depression was affecting their relationship. She said he needed to get help or the relationship would not survive.

"Lisa has been and remains my rock," Mr Hassell said. "She is a huge support through the darkest times in my life and if not for Lisa's love and support I don't believe I would have got through the ordeal".

He added: “I got in touch with my doctor, but it was counselling that was really good. They explained to me that I had depression. The way she put it across that it’s a chemical imbalance helped me understand it.

“If you are a diabetic then it’s all about balance and you take tablets, and it’s same with depression and sometimes you need to take tablets to get that balance.”

Mr Hassell was signed off sick March 2011 and was referred to counselling by his employer for eight months. He returned to work in September 2011.

He has spoken out about his depression and as it’s Mental Health Awareness Week he says it’s important for people to realise that anyone can be affected.

He added that it is particularly hard for men to seek help for mental health conditions.

He has appeared on television and in the press speaking about his experience and hopes he can help more people speak out about any mental health issues they may have.

“I turned this from negative into a positive,” he said. “Speaking about it helps me cope. It has helped others and people have come and spoken to me about it, from other paramedics to firefighters and it really humbling.

“I am a wellbeing advocate and help promote mental awareness and healthy mental wellbeing. I am also a trauma risk management manager for Ambulance Trust to help people dealing with traumatic events and helping staff that have been exposed to them.”

Mr Hassell is one of the people who will receive an award at the Pride of Gwent ceremony.

The event will be held on the afternoon on May 25 in the Coldra Court Hotel where the overall Pride of Gwent winner for 2018 will be announced.

To find out more about the awards and the winners visit southwalesargus.co.uk/prideofgwent.