Talking about your mental health is the first step to recovery
Lockdowns, restrictions and hardship have contributed to a major increase in mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many people have struggled to cope and find it hard to discuss their problems, but one local man who is using his own experiences to help others says that talking really is the best therapy.
Chris Jones (pictured, right) from Weymouth, works as a peer support practitioner with Steps 2 Wellbeing, a free NHS mental health support service run by Dorset HealthCare.
He turned to the service during one of the darkest times of his life, and it helped him get back on track. Now, in the wake of this month’s national Time To Talk Day encouraging people to open up about their mental health, he’s urging others to do the same.
“I’ve been to some incredibly dark places where I found it tough to ask for help and admit to myself, I wasn’t coping,” he said
“I have always been a survivor and I’d grown used to just dealing with things as I didn’t always have people I could rely on. I didn’t want to appear, or more importantly feel, weak. I felt so alone, and didn’t want to burden friends with my problems as I didn’t think that they would understand.
“It got to the point where I wasn’t really going out of the house, and eventually I was struggling to want to get up in the morning.”
After some soul-searching Chris went to see his GP, who referred him to Steps 2 Wellbeing for talking therapy.
“I wasn’t very open with my therapist to begin with but the questions she asked and the way she understood me put me at ease. I broke down a few times but there was no judgement, I was in a safe place where I could explore how I was feeling.
“I began to understand that I was far from alone and there was nothing ‘wrong’ with me – there were plenty of others all experiencing the same thoughts and feelings I was. My therapy sessions helped me become aware of my negative cycle of thoughts and take back control of how they affected me.
“There are still days where I feel low or anxious, but I use techniques I learned during my appointments, and am able to catch things sooner. I have the control to stop it all spiralling.
“I can also use my experiences to help others open up and find a way forward. If you feel like you have no one to talk to, remember that Steps 2 Wellbeing is here to listen.”
Steps 2 Wellbeing is open to all adults in Dorset and Southampton, providing a range of low and high intensity treatments for common mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
You can access the help you need by speaking to your GP or contacting the service directly at www.steps2wellbeing.co.uk