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A Wall to lean on…

17 Apr 2020 | By Jessica Smith

Recently, one of our members wrote to us about their mental health journey. They have kindly allowed us to share it with you to encourage others to take the brave step of opening up and getting support for their mental health. 

“About four years ago I couldn’t cope, and I had a breakdown. I didn’t know what to do. I was going through a lot and I knew that I needed help. At that time the stigma of mental health made it very hard for me to reach out and to talk about my issues. 

I was assessed by the NHS mental health services, but I wasn’t truly honest with them: I held back and didn’t tell them everything. I considered how I responded to their questions and gave them the answers I thought they wanted to hear. I felt if I answered in a certain way it would affect my family. I am a private person and I struggle talking to people about personal feelings and experiences.

I previously worked in health care and mental health, so have an understanding of supporting others with mental health illness. However, when I started to experience poor mental health, I was frightened to talk about it, fearing what my work colleagues would say. I asked myself, how would opening up about this affect my life, both at work and at home?

The Big White Wall

As I began to come to terms with it all I started to look for help and I found ‘Big White Wall’ through a staff network. Big White Wall (BWW) is an online support and recovery service for people who are stressed, anxious, low or finding it hard to cope. It’s a digital service online 24 hours a day to all staff, and is completely anonymous, so you can express yourself freely and openly.

The safety and anonymity of BWW helped me when I was struggling. There’s something called ‘Talkabouts’ where you can share and discuss what’s on your mind, gaining support and advice from the whole community or through one to one discussions with other members and clinicians.   

This helped me as I was not judged, and it felt good to be able to say how I was feeling. I was able to say what I wanted to, without feeling embarrassed in admitting I had a problem or by ‘putting on a brave face’ to avoid others’ sympathy or discomfort. It was a liberating feeling to be able to share the thoughts in my head.

I used the peer support through the online community and for the first time I didn’t have to worry about what others thought of my ramblings. Through time I was able to participate with others online and I started to provide support and encouragement to them, just as I had received when I first joined the community. Using BWW helped me understand that I was not alone in how I felt and as a result in supporting others helped me to become stronger.

Thanks for reading my story. If you need help don’t suffer in silence. There is a lot of support available for staff and it’s all about finding out what is the best support for you as we’re all different. What services have you used and what works for you?”

Please don’t suffer in silence, if you’re struggling with feelings of stress, anxiety, isolation or depression, our community is here to support you 24/7, 365 days a year.

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