A Norfolk man who spent 15 years struggling with mental ill health has encouraged others in a similar situation to step forward and ask for help, saying “you can come out the other side and get your life back together”. Steve developed depression in the mid-1990s while experiencing difficulties at work, and has suffered two further episodes since then following family illness and bereavement. He received the help he needed to rebuild his confidence and get his life back on track from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) Wellbeing service. Now Steve is encouraging others who are experiencing similar issues – and particularly men – not to be afraid to ask for help and simply pick up the phone, visit the website or go to a drop-in session to find out more about the support which is available. The call comes as NSFT gears up to launch its new-look Wellbeing service, delivered in partnership with MIND and Relate, on 1 September. It will provide dedicated help to people from across Norfolk and Waveney who are experiencing anxiety, stress or depression, at an early stage and before their problems become too great. “Mental ill health affects one in four of us, but it is still a very difficult area and lots of people don’t know where to go for help,” explaind Steve. “When I was unwell, I lost interest in just about everything, hardly slept, didn’t bother what or when I ate and made every possible excuse to avoid going out. “I had no idea I was depressed – that was for other people. My family were very worried about me, but I just could not talk to them about it. “I had two other episodes at later dates and was referred to Wellbeing and spent around a year with the service in total while also receiving support from my GP. I am now much better and have moved on with my life. “Men in particular are especially bad at asking for help and will only do so when it is absolutely necessary, which is sometimes too late. But I am proof that there is nothing to fear and don’t know where I would have been without the service. The important thing is remembering that you can come out the other end and get your life back together again. “Most people don’t realise they can easily self-refer to the service just by picking up the phone, visiting the website or dropping into a session. Go along, talk to the experts and see what works for you. It’s not an instant fix and nobody comes out the other side cured, but they do set you on the right road again.” A range of different interventions will be available from the service, including courses and workshops, counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy and help to access community support. Nesta Reeve, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Lead from NSFT, said: “Men traditionally find it more difficult to admit they need support, especially when it comes to dealing with emotional issues. “It’s important to remember that we are here to help. We have made the service as flexible as possible so that it is convenient for people to access, and will work with each individual to make sure the interventions they receive are suitable and will meet their needs. “Steve is living proof that asking for help can make a big difference, and we would encourage others to follow his lead.” For more details or to self-refer to the new Wellbeing service, visit www.wellbeingnandw.co.uk or call 0300 123 1503.