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 A woman who received treatment after being sectioned under the Mental Health Act is speaking out ahead of World Mental Health Day, telling people that “depression does not define you”.

Kayleigh, who has been an inpatient at St Andrew’s Healthcare which has sites in Essex, Northampton and Birmingham, for three years, said: “When I first arrived at St Andrews I didn’t really see a future I was that depressed.

“I experienced some really dark days, and at first I just didn’t know how I would ever feel well again. But I do now, and I’m so thankful for the treatment, help and support I’ve been given at this hospital by staff and patients.”

World Mental Health Day takes place annually on October 10 and is organised by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Kayleigh, who took part in a documentary about her mental health journey earlier on this year called I’m Not Mad, I’m Me, has waived her right to anonymity because she wants to educate people about complex mental health problems and how St Andrew’s Healthcare has helped her recovery.

The 24-year-old said: “I want people to understand that mental health can affect anyone. I want people to realise that just because you’ve got a mental illness, it doesn’t mean you don’t have feelings. It doesn’t mean that you can be ignored or spoken over. Depression does not define you as a person, it’s just a part of who you are.

“When I first arrived at St Andrews I didn’t really see a future I was that depressed. But now, I’m about to be discharged. I want to go to catering college and I want to get a job. I’ve got big plans and I’m excited to get out there and start living my life again, but I want people to know that there is no shame in having mental health problems. We need to break that stigma.”

Kayleigh overcame her mental health problems by attending intensive Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) sessions. DBT is a modified type of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which teaches people how to live in the moment, develop healthy ways to cope with stress, regulate their emotions, and improve their relationships with others.

Kayleigh said: “DBT has changed my life. It’s given me the tools to help me cope with everyday life and now I feel I can deal with anything that is thrown at me.”

The 30-minute documentary, which followed Kayleigh and two other patients who spoke candidly about their recovery journey, is available to watch on YouTube.

Katie Fisher, the charity’s CEO, said: “What I’m Not Mad, I’m Me has done is show members of the public that there are human beings at the heart of the mental health diagnosis. They have feelings too and it hurts to be shunned from the community just because their illness makes some people feel uncomfortable.

“When Kayleigh first arrived at St Andrew’s she was deeply unwell, but her commitment to our therapy programmes, as well as the support and dedication of our care teams has helped her recovery. Three years later she’s about to be discharged and is ready to start living a fulfilling and rewarding life back in the community.

“We’re very proud of Kayleigh choosing to speak out as it’s so important that we raise awareness of complex mental health issues. We want to normalise these conditions so they are freely talked about just as cancers and diabetes are. There’s still so much stigma and fear associated with mental health hospitals, but the reality is, times have moved on and today, care is about working with the patient to help them so they can eventually go on to live a full and rewarding life.”

 

To view I'm Not Mad, I'm Me, click here.