Councillor sends message of hope
A Nottinghamshire councillor who was affected by mental health issues in his early 20s is speaking out about his experiences as part of World Suicide Awareness Day (10 September).
Councillor Scott Carlton, who is the Vice Chair of Adult Social Care and Health Committee, wants to send a message of hope to others who are going through a difficult time.
He said: “I had a number of mental health issues in my early 20s which affected me for a couple of years while I was away at university. This followed a relationship breakdown which spiralled into periods of self-harm.
“I felt like I was operating in a fog. I probably existed for about a year suffering in silence and functioning but keeping the whole thing under wraps. I was aware that there were services there to help me, but it was like I couldn’t access them. There were stigmas at the time about men admitting to mental health problems.
“One of my close friends started to pick up on the early warning signs and she did come to me for a chat and ask if I was ok. My automatic reaction was to put the barriers up and say I was fine.
“I was like a bottle of pop with the lid screwed on and it finally broke. I completely lost it at one point and broke down during a lecture in front of 50 people.
“After this happened, I finally got support from someone in the multi-faith chaplaincy team at Derby University, who I fondly refer to as ‘Sister T’. I still found it difficult to speak about my problems in the early stages. She taught me how to focus on hope and imagine a small candle in the distance that is getting bigger – a technique a still use now. She also helped me to use coping mechanisms. I love cooking, so if I’m feeling down, I’ll go and cook something. I owe her a great deal.
“Sister T suggested I did public speaking about my mental health issues and this gave me something to focus on as part of my recovery.
“I now want to use my experience to let other people know that there is a way out of the fog. If you have been made redundant, had a relationship breakdown or another traumatic event, it can be difficult to see a way out of how you are feeling. But try to focus on hope and know that things will one day get better.
“Try to find someone you can speak to – either someone you know or one of the many support services available. Don’t ever think that you are on your own.
“If you are worried about someone’s mental health, just asking if they’re ok and then asking again if they’re really ok can make a massive difference.”
You can find information and support services about suicide and mental health on our website: www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/suicide