Behind the brave face I was hiding anxiety, as well as that deep feeling of imposter syndrome.

Chi Huynh shares the struggles he's had with mental health and anxiety over the course of his career as a university lecturer, and how he's dealing with them.

Chi Huynh is a pharmacist currently working as a university lecturer. After COVID challenged his mental health, making him feel anxiety over his future, he decided to contact Pharmacist Support. Chi has kindly agreed to share his story in the hope it reaches those who are in a similar situation.

Behind the brave face, I was hiding anxiety, as well as that deep feeling of imposter syndrome.

I was fortunate enough to do a PhD in clinical pharmacy and in August 2016 began my career as a lecturer in pharmacy. Everything was going very well until 2020 when COVID hit.

Having to push all the in-person sessions into just a few weeks because of the imminent lockdown and implement the many changes to initial education and training (IET), my anxiety was significantly heightened. I managed to put on a brave face and continued as normal for as long as I could as I knew everyone was in the same position.

During lockdown I decided to stay in Birmingham by myself, which ended up in me feeling deeply isolated. January 2022 came around and I just could not cope any longer. I felt a mental and emotional block with my work situation and concerned about future career opportunities.

I felt extremely stuck.

After contacting the relevant support services, I decided to seek emergency support to protect my mental health and decided to take some time off work. In February, with the encouragement of my local mental health team, I plucked up the courage to ask Pharmacist Support for extra help.

My initial thoughts were ‘Surely the support available would just be for those pharmacists working in hospital or community pharmacies’. However, when I reached out, a member of the Pharmacist Support team contacted me and provided me with great tailored advice. They also put me in touch with a Listening Friend – someone who may not understand all my situation, but having worked in an academic environment themselves, was able to offer a listening ear.

I found the phone calls from my Listening Friend to be extremely valuable. They helped me find my true worth.

At the start my Listening Friend would listen to me, let me express my concerns. Then gradually after each phone call they helped to challenge me to realistically put things into perspective, and find my strengths and areas to improve on.

They helped me find my true worth.

As lecturers, we are very good at pastoral care and asking our tutees to look after themselves, have a study and work life balance, but most importantly reach out for support when needed. I had not taken my own advice at first, but I am now glad I did.

Since contacting Pharmacist Support , my mental health and life has improved considerably. Having a Listening Friend who’s also a pharmacist  and could listen and provide mentoring really helped. Being able to talk to someone independent and outside of my workplace has helped me really be open and honest about my struggles. I am now in a much better place then I was back in January 2022.

Mental health support for pharmacists

If you have been affected by this story and are struggling with mental health, help is available through our free and confidential Peer Support and Counselling services.

Find out more

Hear from more pharmacists about managing and overcoming mental health concerns

Hear from more pharmacists about managing and overcoming mental health concerns

Speaking up should not be a shameful action that can cost your career and affect your mental health.

Elsy Gomez Campos reflects on her struggles with mental health caused by a challenging and unsupportive work environment, and how she overcame them.

Hear from more pharmacists about managing and overcoming mental health concerns

Ultimately, it’s about acceptance. Mental health issues can affect all of us.

Helena Young shares her story of experiencing high anxiety and burnout and touches on the tools and techniques that helped her get through it.

Hear from more pharmacists about managing and overcoming mental health concerns

Mental health is just as important as physical health. I now make sure I put in boundaries to care for myself.

Amandeep Doll shares her experience of high-functioning anxiety and depression and shares her tips on how to manage the condition.