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Mind infoline adviser, Charlotte, blogs about the vital support she provides to people struggling with their mental health.
For many thousands of people, trying to cope with a mental health problem can be a really difficult experience.
This year will be my fourth year working on the Mind infoline. I take calls from people looking for support, either for themselves or a friend or family member who is experiencing mental health problems. Often people feel lonely and isolated, they’re looking for support but don’t always know where to turn.
This is when, I feel, the Mind infoline becomes a lifeline.
By helping people to find support services in their area, the Mind infoline becomes a key link between those who need support and the services that can help. In some cases, just being a friendly voice at the end of the phone, someone who can listen to someone’s worries and fears, and letting that person know that they are not alone is a huge help in itself, and a very important part of my job.
At times I might talk to callers who feel that there is no way out of their situation and start to experience suicidal thoughts and feelings. This can be frightening for anyone to go through.
In one call I received last year, David (name changed) felt overcome by grief. His wife had passed away and he was in an emotional place where he felt he couldn’t cope with being alone. With no other family or friends around him, David felt it would be easier to end his life rather than continue fighting the negative thoughts and painful emotions he was experiencing.
I was glad that David had picked up the phone and called the infoline. To me, this meant he still wanted to live but did not know where to turn to for help and support. I was able to reassure him that he was not alone, that there was a way forward and we ended the call with him feeling more positive about the help and support available to him.
Recently, thousands of people have been affected by welfare and benefits reforms. It’s an issue that Mind has focused a lot of resources and time on campaigning directly to the government for a fair and supportive benefits system. And on the Mind infoline, it is a subject that we have received thousands of calls about and I’m glad I can help.
Over Christmas, I spoke to a single mother who was struggling to feed her young family due to cuts made to her benefits. Lucy (name changed) was now faced with having to try and find a way to explain to her children why Santa would not be leaving presents that year.
Although she had been putting some money aside in the run up to Christmas, the increase in her electricity bill meant that any spare funds had to go on the bills. Lucy was very emotional and blamed herself for not being a good Mum. She felt alone and frightened that the stress from her financial situation would have a detrimental impact on the anxiety and depression that she experienced.
Thankfully there were a number of organisations and services in her area that could help her, not just with financial difficulties but also emotionally. Hearing the relief in the Lucy’s voice when I started providing information about the different types of support available was really satisfying, knowing that a five minute call had had such a big impact on Lucy and her family.
Working on the Mind infoline is a humbling experience and now I feel that having family, friends and good health is something I will never take for granted.
But as a charity, the Mind infoline’s resources are constantly stretched and the number of calls are rising all the time. This means that unfortunately we’re still not in a position to answer every call.
Every day I wish we had the resources to give support to everyone who is alone and scared, your donations to the infoline could help us get there so please show your support today if you believe, like me, that no one should have to face a mental health problem alone.
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Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.