How this Yorkshire business leader battled back from mental health problems to become a CEO

Sam Alexander
Sam Alexander
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A North Yorkshire business leader has revealed how she underwent therapy after a traumatic period of mental health problems.

With Mental Health Awareness Day set to take place on Thursday October 10, Sam Alexander, CEO Your Consortium and a board member of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP, has shared her story with mental trauma during a difficult time for her business.

Read more: All today's Yorkshire business leaders

Writing in The Yorkshire Post, Ms Alexander revealed how a traumatic Ofsted inspection resulted in her seeking professional health that led her back to recovery. Within two years of beginning her recovery she was made CEO of her Knaresborough-based firm.

She said: "At this very challenging time for businesses of every nature and size, business owners and leaders need to also be aware of their own mental health, and build their ability to identify if they’re coping well, or ‘white knuckling’ through each day.

"To illustrate this point, I have chosen to share my story, seven years after my own mental health crisis.

"In 2012, I was a young and enthusiastic manager in a new not-for-profit company called Your Consortium. Hours were long and the work had all the ups and downs of a new company. On the surface, I had the kind of life many aspire to – purposeful work, growing career and had just bought my first house. Below the surface, I was struggling. I had few meaningful relationships outside of work and used overworking as a way of avoiding feelings of loneliness and disconnection.

"That year, a traumatic Ofsted inspection turned my world upside down. Suddenly work, which had been something of a refuge for me, didn’t feel safe anymore. I became increasingly unable to cope over the next 12 months, eventually being signed off sick.

"I was diagnosed with a trauma reaction to the Ofsted inspection and began a long and winding road to recovery, beginning with therapy and leading to significant changes in my life."

Read her article in full here

Ms Alexander said that two years after beginning this process of recovery she became the CEO of Your Consortium. Upon assuming the role, one of her first acts was to look at improving mental health assistance for her staff.

"One of the first things I did was to make the company a Mindful Employer, investing in prevention activities, an Employee Assistance," she said.

"Programme and transforming the culture to one of openness around mental health. Since this time, the company has gone from strength to strength."