Sign up for NPL updates
Sign up for NPL updates

Receive regular emails from NPL to get a glimpse of our activities and see how our experts are informing and influencing scientific debate

Deanna Bates

Digital Marketing Co-ordinator

4 minute read

TW//Mental health

Meet Deanna Bates, Digital Marketing Co-ordinator, as she tells her story.

I’d had enormous ambitions about becoming a psychologist when I was in college. The jump from GCSE to A-Level proved to be that much more difficult for me, despite being a nearly straight-A student. My own mental health was taking a toll on my drive to follow these incredibly difficult subjects through and I got some pretty poor grades as a result at the end of the year. So, I was advised to go into a BTEC, namely IT – a class in which I was the only girl. While that in itself didn’t seem to bother me at the time, looking back on it, it was isolating. After college, I went straight into an apprenticeship. I knew I’d be completely out of my depth in university. That apprenticeship was working in a brand team, and so I started to learn the marketing ropes. That wasn’t a fantastic time for me mentally either. Despite the nature of the organisation I was working at, they did not practice what they preach. Very little understanding of these kind of issues – the way I was treated there is crazy to look back at.  From there, I got my first “real” job in events marketing (which was wonderful!) and now I’m here at NPL.

I’m in charge of NPL’s social media accounts and marketing emails. A typical day consists of writing posts for our various channels, forming an overall content plan, analysing the outcome of different content. It’s also looking at our marketing data, creating emails and constantly adapting and improving those.

I’ve always been a creative person. I’d grown up with more academic things in mind as a career. Coming from a family of five older siblings, I had a lot to live up to. My first dream job, being the dinosaur-obsessed child I was, was to become a palaeontologist (being able to spell that word at the age of six did wonders for me in primary school). Whatever my obsession was, I was drawing, writing, making things. So, it makes sense that I’ve ended up in a creative job. Whatever I’m doing, I’m always leaning towards making things more visually interesting. 

There have been a few moments over the years where I wasn’t sure I’d be in my current position. After leaving college, things seemed quite bleak. Anxiety was a huge hurdle in it all. I felt like I was behind everyone else who could just get on with it. While I was incredibly lucky to get that apprentice role, and I don’t take it for granted, having that complete lack of understanding as my introduction to the world of work was horrifying. No one talked to me about how I was feeling or what could be done to help. I knew I had to stick with it, and I’m glad I did. My next role, and even more so my role at NPL, has helped me to see that it’s entirely possible for an employer to care and understand. It’s a huge relief at NPL knowing that I can talk to people. Mental Health First Aiders was a concept that I could only have dreamed of in my first job!

Aside from my mental health, and this all plays into it, I have to deal with facial paralysis – a condition not well known to the world and yet, in most cases, it’s so obvious to other people. It adds a whole world of worries to face-to-face interaction. People who haven’t heard of it at all might be wondering why I’m winking at them, or why my eyes water at random. They’re having to adjust to a whole new set of facial expressions. Having this condition means you’re hyper-aware of what people are thinking of you. So, when it comes to job interviews and first impressions, the anxiety is just lurking there, or an obligation to explain myself. It’s a hurdle when it comes to focus and just being able to be myself. NPL is big on ‘bringing your genuine self to work’, and I really appreciate this. It’s so important for everyone across the organisation to be on board.

My advice to others would be to not be afraid to reach out to someone close to you, or a professional. You’re not a burden and you’re not bothering anyone. Talking therapy has been a gamechanger for me. That rational voice is there, but sometimes it just needs someone else’s help to speak up. If you’re dealing with any kind of visible difference, there are organisations out there that can help. Facial Palsy UK have a plethora of resources and support. Changing Faces is another fantastic site full of guidance and other people’s stories.

Read more stories here

Opportunities to join NPL

The information contained on the above text is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional or medical advice. All content, including text, images and information, is for general information purposes only and NPL does not warrant nor represent that it is intended or is suitable for a specific purpose.