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Posted on Feb 2 2023 by Fiona Bailey

A St Andrew's Health Peer Support worker, who has struggled all her life with mental health issues has said “talking turned” her life around and helped with her recovery.

Estelle Randle, who was taken into specialist care in a hospital in 2019, is speaking out as part of the national mental health initiative Time To Talk Day which takes place on February 2.

Run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, the aim of the national campaign is to encourage the nation to have a conversation with someone about their mental health.

At the time, the 26 year-old presented with self-harm, hearing voices, drug and alcohol misuse and suicidal thoughts. In addition she was also suffering from an eating disorder.

Estelle, who now utilises her lived experience as a recovery college peer trainer to instil hope in others at the mental health charity St Andrew’s Healthcare, said: “I was in a very, very dark place and I couldn’t see a way out. It wasn’t that I wanted to die. I just wanted all the voices and pain to stop. I felt trapped in my own mind that was torturing me every waking second. I couldn’t take it anymore.

“After arriving at hospital, I watched my mum drive away and I didn’t cry. I felt completely numb. I wanted to run away but I didn’t even have the energy. I hadn’t eaten or slept in days so I wouldn’t have got very far.”

Estelle’s mother had identified there was something seriously wrong with her daughter, but neither of them knew how to tackle her increasingly damaging and harmful thoughts.

Estelle said: “It took a while to settle at hospital. I didn’t want to be there but gradually I started to trust the staff and the therapist. It was a slow process but I began to open up about what was going on in my head and the people I was talking to actually understood me. I realised the more talking I did, the lighter I felt.”

Eventually Estelle improved and eventually she was allowed home where she started to rebuild her life.

She said: “I honestly think talking turned my life around, it saved me, which is why I’m supporting Time To Talk Day as I have first-hand experience of just how important talking really is.

“I’ve now got a handle on my mental health, but even now I have down days, but I recognise the signs and I make sure I talk to my mum, or my best friend or my therapist. Talking really is the best medicine for mental health.”

To support the campaign St Andrew’s staff are being encouraged to check in with their colleagues over a cuppa to make sure they are ok.

The charity’s CEO Dr Vivienne McVey said: “We know as a mental health charity that talking about things that may be going on in our heads isn’t always easy, but having the right conversation can really help.

“Research has shown that one in four of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year, which is why we need to shine a spotlight on these conditions, ensuring we’re all comfortable talking about them. The more we talk about mental health issues, the more we reduce stigma, which is the ultimate aim. So we encourage you to reach out to someone today to check in and see how they are doing.”

Time To Talk Day was launched in 2014 with the aim of putting a stop to mental health stigma and discrimination and to raise more awareness of mental health

Support the campaign by taking time to talk to a friend or loved one today.