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Local mental health service supports Tameside mum to laugh again

Stock image supplied by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.

A mum-of-three has thanked the Tameside and Glossop living life well neighbourhood mental health team for helping her get her life back and cherish the small things in life, like laughter.

Emma, 35, is sharing her story as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, which focuses on the impact of loneliness on mental wellbeing.

Undiagnosed post traumatic stress disorder led to Emma developing severe anxiety and depression. Believing she could only keep her children safe by staying at home, she isolated her family from everyone except her dad and sister. 

She describes the isolation as a “different kind of loneliness”, where she felt no desire to engage with people, while recognising it was a problem.   

The end of covid lockdown in March 2021 was a breaking point for Emma, as she could longer hide her fears about leaving the house. She knew she needed help but felt she had already tried everything. 

After reaching breaking point, she sought help from The Samaritans and her local A&E. They referred her to the neighbourhood mental health team, which signalled the beginning of her recovery journey.

The team is made up of professionals from The Big Life Group, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, Tameside Council, and Tameside, Oldham, and Glossop Mind. Together they’ve developed new and innovative ways to support people with mental health issues. They’ve already helped more than 6,000 local people, including Emma, and feedback is really positive.

Emma said: “I didn’t really notice we were becoming isolated, as it happened so gradually. It started with me not wanting my children to go on the climbing frame, to skipping the park and developed into a fear of doing everyday things like putting the bins out.

“I lost all my social skills; I couldn’t make eye contact or smile at people, I forgot how to have a conversation and even sending a message became overwhelming. 

“The lockdown allowed me to hide my fears, as it was the perfect excuse not to go out. I’m grateful to my dad and sister, who did everything for me.

“When lockdown ended, I had to face I needed help. I felt I’d tried every kind of medication and therapy, but nothing helped. It felt like an endless battle and I began to believe my children would be better off without me.

“I eventually phoned The Samaritans, who advised me to go to A&E. They referred me to the neighbourhood team.

“I first spoke to mental wellbeing coach Vicky and her approach was different to anything I’d tried in the past. We had a real conversation and she asked what I wanted. She gave me back some control by asking me to think about what was happening in my life and set some practical goals.

“I realised work was having a massive impact on me. I was worried about returning to the office and working too hard to try and prove myself. I was supported to have a conversation with my boss and we developed a plan that allowed me a mix of home and office working, with lots of support. And I’ve recently started a new role within the company, which is much better for me.

“I also recognised that I was being hard on myself about the things I wasn’t able to do with my children. Vicky encouraged me to write down one thing I’m grateful for and one thing I’ve done well each day. This has taught me to be humble, thankful for the small things and cherish the times I achieve something as simple as laughing.

“I was supported by a coach to increase social contact and learn how to manage my anxiety. I’m now able to get out more with my family and friends, which is important to me.

“I’ve now been discharged by the team, which I felt ready for. I still feel weepy sometimes, but I use the skills they’ve taught me. And it’s a safety net knowing I can go back to the team if I need to.

“I’m very grateful for everything, as feel I’ve been able to build myself up from nothing. After feeling so low, I sometimes can’t believe I’m still here.

“The best advice I can offer someone is the hardest bit is asking for help, it gets easier after you’ve taken this first step.”

How to access support

The Tameside and Glossop living life well neighbourhood mental health team is here for anyone in the borough who needs help with their mental health. People can find out more at www.selfhelpservices.org.uk/service/tameside-glossop-neighbourhood-mental-health-team

Or they can phone 0161 716 4247, or ask their GP or another health professional to refer them to the service via the borough’s mental health open door (single point of entry).

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