“I wished I was dead every day,” says Doncaster mental health service user

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Almost 100 people attended the Wellness for Life Event, held at Doncaster CAST last month to celebrate the work of mental health services in the town.

Hosted by a partnership of local organisations, the event was an opportunity for Doncaster residents to share experiences, explore new ideas and help develop future mental health services in the borough.

Over the last year, the town’s Mental Health Strategic Alliance, a partnership made up of the NHS, Council and charities, have focused on improving services for local people and supporting community mental health interests such as the People Focused Group (PFG).

Glyn Butcher, an active of member of the town’s PFG, opened the day with an introductory presentation about the importance of mental health services in the town and the role they have played in his recovery.

Speaking at the Wellness for Life event he said: “I wake up every morning with energy giving thanks for being alive and excited about what amazing opportunities being part of PFG will bring. This is far cry from where I was in my life in the past wishing I was dead every day, moving from one addiction to another and not knowing any wellness tools. I didn’t know about recovery and I really felt hopeless and helpless.”

The PFG is a peer-support network made up of over 200 members who look out for one another, ranging from practical assistance around the home, to a listening ear, friendships and skills exchanges. It was formed over four years ago and members have helped influence the development of local mental health services and are recognised as a leading peer-support organisation.

Glyn continued: “I want to thank the PFG and similar services, if I didn’t have this support, I believe I would be back on drugs by now, drinking again or in trouble with the police. Instead my life is full of good friends, a sense of purpose, a sense of value and achievement, looking forward to future employment and living my life with enjoyment and hope.”

At the event, attendees had the opportunity to speak to representatives from the NHS, as well as other mental health organisations. Highlights of the day included upcoming changes to services such as a new ‘recovery house’ which provides 24/7 support for those who have gone into ‘crisis’, as well as an update on the town’s new Single Point of Access hub for those with deteriorating mental health.

Andrea Butcher (no relation), the Mental Health Commissioning Lead at NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The Wellness for Life Event was a fantastic opportunity for local services and people to come together to share ideas and experiences to help shape mental health in Doncaster.

“Working with the people who have benefited from services, like Glyn, is essential to getting things right for local residents. I want to thank everyone who came along and contributed to, what was, such a fantastic event.”

Based on the success of this year’s event, plans are now being put into place to make Wellness for Life an annual conference.