MENTAL health issues are far more common than any of us will ever realise.

At the very start of my own complications I thought I was alone and it was just me feeling this way.

That in itself added to my own insecurities and self hatred, but as I became comfortable enough to speak out others would often confide in me about their own issues.

And, while it is obviously never nice to know other people are feeling the same way, it is somewhat comforting to know there are others able to empathise and understand your situation.

I now like to try and turn my own negatives into something positive, hence this column and my desire to stop people suffering in silence.

But help is at hand and South East and Central Essex Mind have been assisting people in our area for the past 50 years.

Moving forward, the Echo has now teamed up with SECE Mind to increase awareness of the options available to those in dire need.

But, as services manager Catherine Weir explains, they are already seeing plenty of people.

"We've been here 50 years now and we see hundreds of people in the region every single year," said Catherine.

"We see children from as young as 11 and we offer a wide range of programmes for all ages.

"There's a children and young person's programme, positive pathways, mentorships, housing, training offers and lots more.

"We're always here to help and can be contacted on 01702 601123 or via the website but if someone is in crisis then the first port of call should to ring NHS 111.

"There's an option on there solely for mental health and they can point you in the right direction quickly.

"But there is plenty of help available in this area and it's great to now have this link up with the Echo so we can hopefully get that message out to more people."

The statistics surrounding mental health are heartbreaking.

One in four people will experience difficulties at some stage and tragically close to 7,000 people take their own life every year.

We all have a part to play in checking in on friends and being kind, both in person and on social media.

I myself know only too well the impact words can have, even if those saying them are attempting to be jovial or sarcastic.

It can be tough but mental health sufferers can also help themselves.


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And there are five ways of wellbeing which Catherine recommends.

"You need to try and be active, go for a walk or move your body," said Catherine.

"It's good to connect with people and to be mindful so take notice of the things around you.

"Giving to other people, even just a compliment, is another one and so is trying to learn something new every day.

"Even if you try to learn a language and you learn just one new word every day by the end of the year you're going to have learnt 365 new words.

"It all helps and we're constantly looking at new ideas."

But many of the programmes have had to be adapted during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Obviously a lot of the sessions we've been doing have been virtual ones and it's all been online," said Catherine.

"But there can be no denying Covid has really taken its toll and it will continue to do so as people begin to get back to some kind of normality.

"That will seem daunting for some but the help is out there and that's the main message we want to get across."