Depression under spotlight

Audrey Smith, Chris Light and Alys Jenkins promoting Healthy Minds, for World Mental Health Day. Voluntary Action Calderdale, Hall Street, Halifax
Audrey Smith, Chris Light and Alys Jenkins promoting Healthy Minds, for World Mental Health Day. Voluntary Action Calderdale, Hall Street, Halifax

The World Health Organisation’s Mental Health Day is today, October 10 - and Calderdale charities are joining in raising awareness of mental health issues.

This year’s theme is “Depression: A Global Crisis”.

Calderdale charity Healthy Minds has organised sessions and groups (see right) to help those with the condition locally, coinciding with World Mental Health Day.

In the UK, depression affects one in five people at some point in their lives.

Freda, 70, who lives in the Ryburn Valley, has battled depression on and off for more than 50 years. She spoke to the Courier about her experiences.

“To begin with I didn’t know what it was but from about the age of 14 I started experiencing not being able to get up in the morning and just crying and things like that.

“ It seriously disrupted my schooling.

“My mum was just puzzled. She’d never experienced anything like it herself.”

Freda managed to get through school and college and trained to be a teacher - but it never went away, sometimes lasting for weeks on end.

“I had episodes. But I had no words for it. You’re telling yourself you’re useless and doing it all wrong, ” she said.

When Freda first went to the doctor in her late 20s, she was told to pull herself together.

But a different doctor a few years later explained depression and that she wasn’t alone.

“That was a huge relief,” Freda said.

Freda has since received help through training in mental health and also from her husband, who understands the condition. The pair stay active together, such as cycling and swimming. “I make sure I have lots of activities.

“The mind and the body are part of each other. Exercise gives you a buzz, which does have a big effect on your mind.”

Freda stressed everyone’s experiences of depression are different and says she was lucky compared to others with its severity.

But she said if it’s affecting your life, seek help.

“People can get fed up with life - losing a relationship or something horrible, and get upset but if it’s going on and on in your head and you can’t move on - if you can’t face the world.

“You start to think that people are looking at you - there’s a paranoia and anxiety.

“When that happens, you need to look for help.”

Healthy Minds, Calderdale’s local mental health charity, has organised a range of activities to mark World Mental Health day on October 10th, this year focusing on depression.

Wednesday October 10, 10.30am-12.30pm tea, cake and a chat at Kings Cross library; Thursday October 11, 9.30-11.30am, stress awareness course, the first of six sessions, at Mixenden Parents’ Resource Centre; Thursday October 11, 1-3pm, free and confidential information weekly session at Halifax Central library.

The charity also runs regular groups for depression, post-natal depression, bi-polar and hearing voices group. There is also the fortnightly Relax, Recharge, Recover group featuring activities such as writing, reading , and creativity, as well as relaxation sessions. Contact Healthy Minds on 01422 438722.