Working as a mental health professional for Medibank’s telephone health services, there’s no such thing as a typical day for Glenn Eisenberg. The one common thread is the struggles callers are facing. Having also experienced the pain of dark thoughts and uncertainty, Glenn says he’s paying it forward by helping others.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Glenn spent 13 years working as a school social worker. During that time, he met and married an Australian woman and had a son.
“We relocated to Australia when he was two and I’ll be honest, it was tough. I was an American living in Sydney and all my family and friends were back in New York. I was working different jobs and trying different things. It was new and overwhelming,” says Glenn.
“After a year in Australia – and within three months – my marriage broke down, I lost my father and my job. It was in a period of my life that I can only describe as rock-bottom.”
Glenn with his son and dad.
Glenn says during this time he learnt resilience and how to find strength against the anxiety that had always chased him.
Struggling with mental illness is something he understands deeply, so the opportunity to help others in a similar situation is one he values.
“When somebody calls and they’re talking about being isolated, suffering from anxiety or just feel like negativity keeps knocking on their door, I have complete empathy,” he says.
“It’s important that those who are battling mental illness know how brave they are for even convincing themselves to take a step forward. Being a mental health professional has given me an appreciation of where I’ve come from.”
Through working with different organisations, including Medibank, Glenn has seen first hand what it’s like when people are struggling with mental illness.
“When you experience mental hardship personally and hear people’s own stories on a daily basis, it’s impossible to stop empathy from taking over. I have such a compassion for the journey that people take in life.”
Although not everyone who calls Medibank’s mental health professionals are ready to accept help, for Glenn the most common response he receives is gratitude.
“I get so many calls from people who are grateful someone is listening to them. They’re thankful someone takes the time to let them speak. It humanises us because we have no idea what people are going through.”
Glenn with his son.
Glenn says he is thankful to be in a role and a part of an organisation that allows him to make a difference in someone’s life.
“Truly, this is the hardest but best job I’ve ever had because I know I’m making a difference, no question about it. So much of what Medibank allows me to do is recognise my own journey, which has brought me to a point where I understand what people are going through.”
Medibank understands how important looking after our mental health is. The company employs mental health professionals like Glenn to offer assistance, but also makes it a priority to look after its employees’ health holistically.
“Whenever I need help, all I have to do is reach out and support will be there. When I started, I was told that there will be days when I’ll get really tough calls which could affect me more than others, and that’s ok. Medibank does a tremendous job understanding their employees.”
Glenn with fellow Medibank Mental Health Counsellors.
A tough job indeed but one Glenn doesn’t take for granted because he knows that he is in a position that allows him to positively impact lives.
“It’s making a difference and knowing that I have the ability to change the course of people’s lives. I speak to people who have hit their lowest points and if I can help them see their strength and see the humour, irony and joy in their journey, even just a little bit, then I know I’m doing my job,” he says.
“Darkness is just shadows; we just have to find the light and allow ourselves the possibility that it’s in there.”