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“Don’t be afraid to ask for help”
03/04/2017

​A Norfolk man who has overcome the depression which haunted him for 35 years has urged others not to be afraid to ask for the help in the run up to World Health Day.

Nigel Thomas, who lives in Rollesby near Potter Heigham, only received the help he needed in 2011 after he “lost the plot”, quit his job and was referred to the Wellbeing Service, run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

He has shared his story ahead of World Health Day on Friday 7 April, which is organised by the World Health Organisation and this year carried the theme “Depression: Let’s talk”. The international event aimed to break down some of the stigma which still exists around mental ill health while encouraging those who are suffering to ask for help.

“I knew I didn’t feel quite right but, like many men, I ignored what the doctor said and pretended it wasn’t happening,” said Nigel, who is now 63. “I first struggled on for 25 years and had my ups and downs but kept it to myself as I just thought that was what life was like. Then I got made redundant and my wife died suddenly. My GP told me I had depression but I took the attitude that other people deal with these things, so I should be able to too.

“Things came to a head in 2011 when something happened at work and I just lost the plot completely. I ended up taking myself off and walking along the coast from Sheringham to Great Yarmouth. I needed space to think and to get away from things, but wasn’t able to get away from myself.”

Nigel eventually went back to his GP and was given various options to pick from, and ended up attended several appointments with a cognitive behavioural therapy practitioner from NSFT.

He is now using his own experiences to help other people in his job as a peer support worker with Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney, which is run by NSFT in partnership with Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind, West Norfolk Mind, Great Yarmouth and Waveney Mind and Relate.

“It’s great that I am now able to use my story to help other people – I find it really rewarding,” added Nigel. “I also do lots of one-to-one work to give people hope for the future and control over their lives while demonstrating that recovery is possible.

“It’s become more acceptable and more mainstream to talk about mental health issues. Services are now making it easier than ever before for people to refer themselves, which is also having an impact.

“Getting help is really important – I’m living proof that it works and recovery is possible.”

Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney and Wellbeing Suffolk provide a range of support for people with common mental health and emotional issues, such as low mood, depression or stress. We work with you to help you make the necessary changes to improve your wellbeing and quality of life.

Services are free and are available to people aged 16 and over living in Norfolk and Waveney, and for people of all ages in Suffolk.

For more information or to self-refer, visit www.wellbeingnands.co.uk or call 0300 123 1503 in Norfolk and Waveney or 0300 123 1781 in Suffolk.

For more information about World Health Day, visit www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2017/en/