Living with a serious mental health problem can be a constant struggle but women in North Wales can access support and help from Holywell-based Kindness In Mind (KIM) – a project that focuses on improving each individual’s mental health and personal wellbeing.
Providing support groups and networks for women in the region suffering from severe and enduring mental health issues, the charity also focuses on improving the women’s confidence and reducing their isolation through coping strategies.
One woman who is now benefiting from the voluntary organisation’s good work is 40-year-old Barbara Masters from Flint who was referred to KIM after suffering a severe and enduring mental illness.
This week Barbara will celebrate her recovery by opening a new business Serenity Acupuncture and Holistics at Lyons Den Fitness in Bagillt where she will offer customers acupuncture and massage treatment as well as reflexology, Hopi ear candling and facials.
“I was in the massage industry for about 10 years but was made redundant so I went to university to study acupuncture and I finished my degree in June,” explains Barbara.
“After that it felt like my world caved in on me.
“I became very poorly and was suffering from very severe anxiety and depression. I was taken to hospital and was seen by the home treatment team from Wrexham Maelor Hospital and they were fantastic.
“They put me in touch with the KIM project and at first I didn’t want to see anybody. But eventuallly I got persuaded to go along and have a chat with a couple of the ladies there.”
Funding from the National Lottery enabled the project to hire a ‘Branching Out’ worker to work with individuals on a one-to-one basis, focusing on their future aspirations with KIM also providing residential weekends, where the women have further chances to improve their confidence and share the experience.
“I met with a lady called Hayley who invited me over straight away and dropped me in at the deep end,” laughs Barbara.
“It was the best thing that could have happened because without them, I’d still be the mess I was – in my pyjamas and not doing anything.
“They gave me my confidence back and ensured I could do what I was trained to do. They’re the reason why I went ahead and started this business.”
Speaking specifically about the help she received, Barbara credits the volunteer staff with making her see a way out of her depression.
“They gave me strategies to help me move from the dark place I was in – and to start thinking about where I wanted to be,” she says.
“There was a drop in on Friday which got me starting to go out again and getting my confidence back about mixing with people. I honestly believe that without them I wouldn’t be on the verge of opening my own business.”
Barbara launched her new venture with a special open evening yesterday and she is confident that her new found ambition will help make it a success.
“You would think someone in the massage industry would be a dead chilled out person but I was doing my degree and trying to juggle that with being a single mum with four teenage children and a carer for my mum who’s 82,” she says.
“As soon as I finished university I dropped all the balls and I’m not very good at asking for help and letting people know when I’m struggling.
“KIM has taught me that it’s ok to not be ok and to ask for help if I need it. I didn’t even know about it before I got ill and I want people to know that iof they are feeling down there is someone out there who will listen and help you.
“If you have a broken leg it’s obvious you are ill but there is still a stigma attached to depression. People are so reticent to come forward but I found it so comforting to know that there were other people going through the same things I was.”
Barbara is now hoping she can take some of the experiences she has had and use them to influence her own business practices.
“I am passionate about all types of complementary medicine and believe it is important for people to take charge of their own health to create wellness rather than treat illness,” she adds.
“I’m really interested in the mental health benefits of what I do now as I found acupuncture worked well with my anxiety and I’ve said that from day one anyone who attends KIM will get a discount on their treatments.
“Once you use KIM they are always there for you so I know that if my situation changes I can go back to Holywell, pop in and they’ll always be someone I can talk to.”
l For more about Serenity Acupuncture and Holistics, contact Barbara via 07432 893176 or serenityacupunctureholistics@ outlook.com
l To contact KIM go to www.facebook.com/kiminspire or call 01352 872819