for better mental health

How volunteering in a Mind shop helped my anxiety

Friday, 07 June 2019 Jamie

Jamie shares how volunteering at his local Mind shop helped him cope with his anxiety, which had got so bad he had struggled to leave the house.

Jamie enjoys volunteering in his local Mind shop.

My anxiety had reached a point where I found it difficult to leave the house, and the thought of getting a job felt out of the realms of possibility.

My mother introduced me to the idea of volunteering in my local Mind shop. She knew I would be part of an understanding team of people, and thought it could help me with my anxiety.

"This could be an opportunity for positive change in my life."

My mother would bring the suggestion up with me every few days, and after the course of a couple of months, I became more comfortable with the idea. I saw that this could be an opportunity for positive change in my life.

After discussing volunteering with the team at the Mind Shop in Tonbridge, it was agreed that I could build things up slowly. I found it really helpful that the shop was so accommodating to my needs.

"There was no pressure to do anything I was not comfortable with."

I decided to first come in for one hour on a Friday evening when no other volunteers were in the shop. The first few times I volunteered, I simply sorted through the books in the back of the shop. With time, I began to become more comfortable with leaving the house, and also started meeting the rest of the team. They were very inclusive, and I felt very comfortable in the shop environment. The shop navigated to my pace, and there was no pressure to do anything I was not comfortable with.

"I knew I could make this next step."

The next step for me was moving onto the shop floor. At first it was something as simple as putting out some books, or some bric-a-brac. I kept taking small steps like this, doing a little more each time, until one day I was asked to cover the shop on my own. This was quite a big step compared to where I had first started. However, I looked at my path of improvement so far and decided that I could only go forward. Each step I had taken was slightly outside of my comfort zone, and the only way to proceed and expand my comfort zone further was to push up against it. Looking how far I had come gave me confidence, so I knew I could make this next step.

"I am proud to volunteer at Mind."

Not only did I successfully cover the shop, I’m now at the point where I’m applying for a job at Mind, something that was inconceivable to me at my lowest point.

I am proud to volunteer at Mind because of the mental health support and work that they do. I am grateful to my mother for having the confidence in me to apply, and all the staff and volunteers at the Mind shop in Tonbridge for their support and understanding along my personal mental health journey.

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Find out more about anxiety here.

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