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During Time to Talk Derbyshire month we’re sharing stories of Derbyshire people’s experiences with mental health.

Social Worker Richard says that he saw a decline in his emotional health during the pandemic but it took him a while to realise that he needed some support.

Richard said:

“The last two years have been really hard for everyone and the pandemic has placed increased pressure on the sector I work in.

“Towards the end of 2021 I recognised that I wasn’t myself. I was struggling with anxiety on a more frequent basis and my mood had become much lower, which I can see was the result of several factors in my life that had made daily life very hard.

“I came to the realisation that I needed to do something about it. But when I look back it wasn’t as simple as that.

“The deterioration in my mental health happened gradually. As such I had not realised that I had been unwell for quite some time and that’s why things continued to spiral downwards. It took me to be at a ‘big low’ to see I needed to change things.

“A huge part of this change was referring myself to the counselling service that my employer offered.

“I wasn’t sure what counselling was but I knew I needed help and support. I didn’t know what to expect from it and you do wonder if it will be a scary, difficult process where someone may uncover your deepest darkest secrets.

“But it was not like that at all. The counselling sessions have been incredibly useful and supportive. It was simply about talking about how I felt and understanding my feelings. By opening up I can’t tell you how much it has helped me be a stronger person and be able to feel like myself again.

“There are still times when I get anxious or feel a bit low, but it is nowhere near as severe and it often passes much quicker now. I also have learnt to have a ‘toolbox’ of different strategies to use to help me when things might be more difficult.

“It feels really empowering to know that although there will often be hard times in my life, I now feel able to deal with these in a much healthier way and I can get on with enjoying my life - something that seemed unimaginable before.

“I would recommend services like this for anyone who is finding things difficult and struggling to be themselves or get through the day.

“I realised that asking for help and support doesn’t mean you are weak or that there is anything wrong with you, it may just mean that you are struggling and you need to reach out to someone else for help.”

If you need to talk about how you're feeling the Derbyshire Mental Health helpline is open 7 days per week, tel: 0800 028 0077.