Grandmother's thanks to 'life-saving' mental health staff

Joyce 150915c (2)1A Great-grandmother has praised staff rom Pennine Care’s Healthy Minds service for ‘saving her life’ after she was left struggling to cope following a series of  stressful and heart-breaking events.

Joyce Barton, 73, said she reached her lowest point earlier this year and couldn’t face getting out of bed some days before she received support from Healthy Minds Oldham.

The stressful period started when Joyce’s husband of 31 years, Alan, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia after he began showing signs of memory loss in September last year.

Just as the couple, from Chadderton, began to adapt to the news, they were struck again by tragedy as their 18-year-old grandson, Michael Turner, died suddenly following an epileptic seizure on January 2.

Just a month later, Joyce was diagnosed with breast cancer and told she would need radiotherapy.

Joyce, who is a grandmother-of-22, said: “I was incredibly depressed for a long time.

“I couldn’t sleep because of the stress and worry.

“Some days I wanted to stay in bed all day and not face any of it but I tried to carry on.

“I bottled it all up and didn’t tell anyone how I was feeling; I didn’t want them to worry.”

After speaking to her GP, Joyce was referred to Healthy Minds, a free, confidential NHS service which provides support and treatment for people experiencing common mental health problems, and given a number to call.

“I kept that number in my handbag for weeks,” Joyce said. “I wasn’t sure it was for me and I didn’t think it could help.”

However, when, on top of everything else, Joyce lost her beloved dog Beryl, a rescue daschund, she realised she needed help.

Joyce, said: “Her death was a shock, she was such an important part of my life and the only thing that could help me relax.

“With her gone and with everything else going on I became incredibly low. I wanted my grandson back, I wanted Beryl back, but I knew that couldn’t happen.

“I had days where I wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. I knew I needed some help.”

Joyce’s GP made her a one-to-one appointment with a counsellor from the Healthy Minds team and she says she hasn’t looked back since.

She said: “On my way to the appointment, I was nervous but they were amazing.

“They didn’t pry or ask intrusive questions but they allowed me to open up. Before I knew it I’d been talking for the entire hour and I felt wonderful,, like a weight had been lifted from me.

“I really believe they saved my life, my entire outlook has changed.

“I can’t praise Healthy Minds enough and I’d recommend them to anyone who needs help.”

She added that the service has allowed her to stop taking some medications to deal with her depression and aided her through her radiotherapy treatment.

Joyce’s husband Alan also says he has noticed a difference, saying she is much happier and they are both more able to deal with the stressful events of the last 12 months.

Alan, 76, said: “Rather than focusing on what we can’t change we’re looking forward and focusing on enjoying our lives together.”

Find out more about Healthy Minds and get in touch here.