Steven, who lives with anxiety, low mood, OCD and a personality disorder, received support from his local hospital for several years. Steven felt very alone and had nobody to talk to. He remembers he ‘felt like giving up’ at the time. He initially sought support from Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind to help him find a purpose in life and set some meaningful goals. With their help, Steven identified volunteering as something that could help him to achieve this.
Steven says “I started off on a course as a mentee, which I found really helpful. When it finished after 6 months I went on to try something else, first it was growing vegetables and cooking and that kind of thing, but it really wasn’t for me. Then I found out about Mind’s programme Get Set To Go, which is all different sports, and I thought I would give that a go.
Get Set to Go is run by Mind. It is designed to help people with mental health problems feel more confident about being physically active. It’s running in eight areas in England, (Brent, Croydon, Dudley, Herefordshire, Rochdale, Lancashire, Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Stockton) with thanks to support from Sport England and the National Lottery. A combination of direct support backed up by Mind’s online community Elefriends and a new motivational website are helping people to discover the joys of being active.
Steven continues: “Since being introduced to the programme my life has taken off. I’m playing football for Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation’s mental health squad there every week, and on top of that I’ve just passed a Level 1 in coaching and am now running my own session playing bowls with around 8-10 service users.
“It’s helped me to realise what I had in life before and it really has helped me to build my confidence up tremendously. Up until about a year ago I didn’t think I was going to be here – let alone coaching and helping others. I’ve got so much to give, and Get Set to Go has given me the option as a volunteer to give so much back, because I have had so much given to me in the way of support and guidance.
“I’ve also met some really good friends along my path. People who come along to the bowls sessions feel comfortable talking about their own issues, and that in itself makes me feel like I have a purpose. In my last session that I’ve just had, one of the service users that has been there from the start was telling me about his week, and how he’s not had a great one, and he felt comfortable telling me about it. That actually made me feel really good because he trusted me.
“When I’ve been in and out of institutions, in the 7 years that I was, when you mention that you’ve got mental health issues to people, they just turn around and run. I would rather someone talk to me and ask me questions and I will be very happy to answer them to put them at ease.
“If my story can help other people out there then I want to share it to encourage others to keep pushing through.”
Mind gives advice and support to anyone who needs it. You can find out more about Get Set to Go, Elefriends and lots of other ways Mind can help by visiting Mind’s website here.