A life turned around – lives under threat. The two faces of York mental health

6 Oct 2013 @ 10.07 pm
| Health
'I have never looked back' – Paul Lofthouse. Photograph: York Mind
‘I have never looked back’ – Paul Lofthouse. Photograph: York Mind

robert-beaumont-headshotRobert Beaumont continues his series of articles for YorkMix ahead of World Mental Health Day by talking to a man whose life was changed for the better through mental health support – and a warning that service cutbacks elsewhere could lead to deaths

A York man, who suffered from crippling depression and self-doubt, has praised the charity York Mind for helping him to get his life back on track and to find a fulfilling job.

Twenty-six-year-old Paul Lofthouse, was, in his own words “stuck in a desperate rut, lacking the confidence to make anything of my life”.

Living at home with his parents, Paul felt he was unable to cope with the debilitating depression and lack of self confidence that he had suffered from since a teenager. He found it a struggle even to go outside.

“My life was a misery,” recalled Paul. “I couldn’t see any way out. A couple of years ago, however, a friend suggested that I contacted York Mind to see if they could help.

“Thankfully, despite my negative outlook on life, I did. And I have never looked back.”

York Mind helped Paul to embark on a number of its courses, including Ready, Steady Life, Ways Into Work and ICT, which he found “incredibly helpful.”

“The combination of going out and meeting people and learning skills which would enable me to get a job was absolutely perfect. It was a virtuous circle, giving me confidence in all aspects of my life.

“For example, I am absolutely fascinated by the history of York and my experience at York Mind gave me the confidence to give a presentation at the University of York on the city’s Golden Age from AD 71 to 1485. Although this was initially a daunting prospect, I thoroughly enjoyed it,” Paul explained.

Paul’s new-found confidence, together with his IT skills, has led to a fulfilling job in the administrative department at the university.

“Everything is now fitting into place. My life is back on track and I am looking to move out of my parents’ house and get a little place of my own.

“A couple of years ago I would not have even contemplated doing that and it is no exaggeration to say that I owe it all to York Mind. They have been not just a support, but also an inspiration.”

Shocking situation

Paul’s story comes in the wake of the shocking news this week that hundreds of people with severe mental health problems are waiting more than a year for counselling in York and Selby.

Peter Gorbert of York Mind, said: “It’s an absolutely shocking situation for us to be in in the 21st century and one that’s common across the whole country.

“Imagine breaking your leg and being told you have a very serious problem which could get worse but you have to wait over a year for help. While they are on that list they are becoming more and more poorly.

“They are becoming withdrawn, lonely, isolated, frightened and scared. These people are critically unwell. People will die while they are on that list.”

York Mind, which is based in Highcliffe House, Highcliffe Court, Clifton, is currently gearing up for World Mental Health Day on Thursday October 10.

Holly Pollard, York Mind’s Community Fundraiser, commented: “We are so looking forward to celebrating World Mental Health Day 2013.

“It’s an annual reminder of the importance of taking care of your own, and others, mental wellbeing. York Mind will be just one of several organisations marking the occasion, with awareness and fundraising events happening city-wide.”