Local mental health charity helps unemployed

Mental Health Awareness Week, the national campaign which took place earlier this month.

Mental Health Awareness Week, the national campaign which took place earlier this month, was a good reminder of the importance of good mental health for all. Feelings of stress, anxiety and depression can have a debilitating impact on people’s lives and wellbeing, which can make looking for a job seem like an unsurmountable task, undermining confidence even further sometimes leading to financial difficulty.

In Cornwall, a EU funded project offers a life line for people who are unemployed and experiencing mental ill health. Run by award winning Cornish charity Pentreath and funded by the European Social Fund, the Recovery College Cornwall project run free courses that encourage participants to be the agents of their own recovery and empower them to live the lives they choose. Led and delivered by people with lived experience of mental ill health alongside educational and mental health professionals, the project enables recovery through learning, hope, and opportunity.

George* had been experiencing months of debilitating stress and was referred by her GP to Pentreath, who suggested she enrols on the courses run by the Recovery College Cornwall (RCC). George described: “I was so happy to finally find a group of people that really understood how I was feeling – they could put my emotions perfectly into words, which was something I could not do.

“The sessions were held online via Skype, which was great for me and worked really well, as at the beginning I would have not ventured out to attend a course. On the first online Skype session I was extremely nervous and emotional, I cried and hardly engaged as I found it completely overwhelming. However, everyone, the tutors, learning support workers and students were always kind, supportive and respectful which made me feel safe, protected and in control. Sharing experiences, tips and ‘gems of wisdom’ with others going through similar situations made a huge difference. I suddenly wasn’t feeling alone or so scared.”

Over the weeks and months George’s confidence grew. The RCC sessions gave her numerous tools to try, and the knowledge and understanding to help with what she was going through physically and mentally.

George explained: “So many things just clicked into place and finally made sense. The relief of realising it was ok to feel how I did, and how important it is too to look after yourself instead of others – without mountains of guilt. I genuinely believe that the support that I received from Pentreath and RCC brought me out of the deep sad lonely cave of anxiety and stress that I was trapped in. I cannot thank them enough for the support they have provided me over the last 4 months as I now have strong foundations and tools which I practice daily to continue to build myself up.”

George added: “If you are unsure about joining RCC then I would say jump in with both feet, you have a lot to gain and nothing to lose. In my experience the more I engaged the more I got out of it. I appreciate it seems scary right now but the difference in me is huge, I am happy, positive and see a future which is unbelievable compared to where I was a few months ago. I truly believe without the support of Pentreath and RCC I would not be where I am now and nothing would have changed.”

Running until December 2021, RCC include a number of core of courses focusing on understanding mental health with further vocational and wellbeing courses being developed. The courses are open to anyone with mental ill health who is unemployed. For more information visit: http://www.recoverycollegecornwall.org.uk

*Name has been changed