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Former Big Brother housemate reveals struggle with depression and anxiety.

Look, it aint often a Big Brother contestant really makes you think about the big issues.

But former BB housemate Ben Zabel has just got 3 million people talking about mental health in the workplace.

Zabel has just revealed why he lost his job as a flight attendant at Virgin, via a passionate Facebook update that has since been shared thousands of times.

Zabel says the airline let him go because he was struggling with anxiety and depression. He’s at peace with his own condition, but distressed by the way his bosses handled the situation. Doesn’t sound like a lot of tact or compassion was involved in his dismissal.

Here’s what Zabel had to say:

A year ago I was ‘dismissed’ from Virgin Australia as I suffered severe anxiety & depression, & was no longer ‘fit’ to fly I was just 5 months short of 10 years long service, & a free return trip for two, to the USA (taking Mum to Graceland of course!)…

A year later I’m flying weekly with Qantas (ch 9 contract) & being upgraded to business! The lesson to be learned? Never be afraid to ask for help, & never let a ‘stigma’ stop you from giving new things a go! Look how my life has transformed, in part to all your kindness & support. Thank you.

Zabel told News.com.au: “I was dismissed because I wasn’t capable of fulfilling my duties as a flight attendant. I certainly wasn’t fit to fly, it was just the manner in which it happened,” he said.

“I did nine and a half years without a break, continued full time service. I knew that I was entitled to long service leave.”

“I’m sorry it took so long [to share this story], but honestly I was scared of possible threats of legal action (silly I know!), the inevitable backlash from Virgin brand loyalists, people making broad assumptions on what sort of employee I might have been, & just the plain old stigma of mental illness!”

Ben’s just done his part in helping to get rid of that stigma. The fact that so many people liked his Facebook status just proves thousands of other people are ready to join him.

If you would like to speak to someone, you can call beyondblue on 1300 22 4636, or visit the beyondblue website.

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