‘You’re Not Alone’ – Arbroath Woman in Mental Health Plea to Local Community

A young Arbroath woman is on a mission to get young people talking about their feelings.

As part of the ‘Foolish Optimism’ roadshow, which is currently touring Scotland following the release of the film of the same name, Leigh Addis (26), a member of the Foolish Optimism working group, met with a range of Angus charities and young people yesterday (Tuesday 20 November 2018) to discuss the topic of mental health.

Leigh, who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and anxiety, has lived with mental health problems most of her life, as has her mother. After leaving Arbroath Academy eight years ago, Leigh’s mental health worsened during college and has largely been unable to work since. However, Leigh is keen to stress that there is help out there, and that talking to others can make a huge difference.

Leigh Addis

Leigh Addis

After watching the film, which was launched in Dundee last month, the group discussed the topics raised within it, the importance of mental health and how they would like to improve services. The audience included representatives from local mental health charity Reach Across, as well as service users and an occupational therapy student, with Leigh now hoping to run a similar event in local schools.

Following the event, which was held at Angus Carers Centre in Arbroath, Leigh said, “I wanted to provide a safe space where young people and local charities could watch and digest the film and then talk openly about the issues facing them, what helps them, and what they need. It’s absolutely crucial that young people especially know that they’re not alone and that many others are going through the same thing, and thinking similar thoughts.

“Since my diagnosis, I have been working very hard to try and get my health back on track. I do a lot to help myself because the support systems are just not good enough, and the waiting lists to see specialists are huge. I often feel like I’m going round in circles but that’s where friends and communication come into play. It’s very easy to hide away when you feel down so it’s crucial to have people around you who understand your bad days, and who you can relate to.”

Leigh loves spending time with her dog Teej, who she describes as her ‘therapy’ and also attends Art Angel in Dundee, a mental health advocacy charity which uses creative writing, art and photography to help people who are struggling with their mental health to communicate and express themselves.

Leigh continued, “When you have a mental health condition, you’re often in a spiral of waiting for appointments with different heath professionals, stuck in the system a little, so I try to do the things that make me feel better in the interim, and I especially love making masks and sculptures. Creativity can play a huge part in mental health, whether it’s making something, writing your feelings down or whatever distracts you and gives you focus on that particular day.”

Leigh, third from the right, with those who attended yesterday's event in Arbroath.

Leigh, third from the right, with those who attended yesterday’s event in Arbroath.

 

Foolish Optimism was made possible by funding from the Year of Young People National Lottery Fund and Life Changes Trust.

For more information, and to watch the film, please visit https://www.foolishoptimism.org

ENDS

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