The local mental health Trust is saying a big ‘thank you’ to local man, Chris Bower, who donated his time to get involved with the Trust and its services to benefit those experiencing mental health problems.
South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust provides specialist mental health and learning disability services to people in Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield.
For a number of years, Chris has been working with the equality and inclusion team on a voluntary basis to, in his words, "try help others and bring something positive out of the years of negativity when I was struggling to cope with my own mental health problems". He organised a number of support groups for both inpatients and outpatients in Wakefield and Dewsbury and worked with staff to engage service users in creative and artistic activities. These groups helped service users to build confidence and find new ways to express themselves.
Chris has also attended conferences to discuss and develop the delivery of mental health services at the Trust and interviewed prospective candidates for the role of chief executive.
Chris said, "When I became ill, I went from someone who had lots of responsibility in a powerful, stressful job, to feeling like I had nothing left in the world. Volunteering and working with people at the Trust has given me the confidence to get involved again, to take on responsibility and to help others experiencing mental health problems.
I genuinely want to thank all those at the Trust who I have met and have helped me overcome the difficulties and stigma that I faced."
Phil Walters, head of involvement and inclusion at the Trust said, "I have got to know Chris really well since he has been involved with the Trust. The work Chris has done has been invaluable, he has used his experience to help so many others experiencing mental illness and to break down the stigma surrounding mental health."
Chris has found photography really helpful as he recovers from his mental illness and now plans to pursue this further, as well as spending time with his family.