“I have always struggled with my mental health. I don’t have a great relationship with my parents. I moved out of home at 18 to be with my abusive boyfriend. My friend died in a horrific knife attack. I was living in a shared house and working in a betting shop in Gloucester. I stayed there for four years. I have always wanted to write and I finally made the decision to go to university. But in that happy moment I realised I had no one to tell. I felt alone. I tried to take make own life.
 
“I was unsuccessful. I never told anyone. I was drinking lots, not getting up and hiding away. My housemates took me to a doctor and I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I thought I would get help but my experience with the NHS was disappointing. I felt like I was just a number to them. I didn’t fit their system and the system wouldn’t change for me.
 
“I continued to muddle through – I was having three or four panic attacks a day sometimes. I finally made it to university, funding myself as a mature student. But I continued to hide myself away. It was when I got a Summer job with YG that I finally got the support I needed.
 
“At 23 I was leading a team of 16 year olds on a summer programme. My manager was really supportive and gave me the chance to off-load about work frustrations and with that so much more came out. I was invited to come back to the Link, their drop-in and enrolled on their Linked UP programme. I received six months of support from a Mental Health Youth Worker and a Counsellor. I couldn’t believe how fast the process was when previous attempts to get help had been so hard.
 
“YG really cared about me. The counsellor helped me look at issues in both my past and present and the youth worker helped me explore coping mechanisms. After struggling for so long and feeling alone, it was great to finally have people that would look out for me and remind me of things I could do to help myself. The process has been great. It has helped me reflect on so many areas of my life. I feel more settled about issues that have continued to upset me. I don’t get stressed as easily anymore and I’m not scared of the future and what it holds. YG actually care, they want you to do well and will do all they can to help you.”