A WOMAN who had “hit rock bottom” has told how a new scheme to help people tackle mental health problems gave her her life back.

The woman, who we are calling Tricia to protect her identity, was treated by the Criminal Sentence Treatment Requirements (CSTR) service, at St Andrew’s Healthcare in Basildon, following a court appearance.

Her offending was the culmination of a lifetime of unhappiness which led to serious problems with her mental health.

She said: “I did something which I regret and I ended up in court. Basically, the magistrate and probation service recognised that more than anything else, I needed help because of my mental health so I was referred to the Essex CSTR Service.

“I was very dubious at first because I’ve had counselling before and it just didn’t work. But, after a few months I noticed I had changed my mindset. I was feeling positive about my future and for the first time ever I felt my life had meaning.”

Tricia had chronic anxiety and depression, which started as a childhood abuse by her mother. The pattern carried on into adulthood as she ended up marrying twice, both times to men who were also physically abusive towards her.

This led to a breakdown where she eventually tried to take her own life.

Tricia said: “I hit rock bottom. I hated myself. I didn’t think I was worthy of being loved or having friends. I pushed everyone away because I felt that if my own mum couldn’t love me then why would anyone else.

“But then I started the therapy with St Andrew’s. It was a slow process, quite hard at times and I would say it was a good four months before I had my lightbulb moment.

"But my therapist opened my eyes. She made me challenge my negative thoughts and turn things around. She made me feel safe and comfortable and all of a sudden I felt there was purpose to my life.”

The service is a national initiative delivered to people regionally who are given a Mental Health Treatment Requirement instead of a community order.

Dr James Fowler, clinical lead for South East Services, said: “To hear Tricia’s story is inspiring, heart-warming and just goes to show that people should be given a second chance. We know mental health treatment resources are sparse, which is why so many people do not get the help when they need it. But this service is turning things around for those people.”