A man who volunteers for the charity that saved his life has shared his story ahead of World Mental Health Day on October 10.
Mike Bosworth, from Biddulph Moor, overcame severe anxiety and depression when he was in high school with the help of North Staffs Mind.
He said: “Feeling like I didn’t fit in, being bullied, and a lack of self-esteem led me to become suicidal – I think I was around 14. That’s when I first went to North Staffs Mind to see a counsellor.
“This particular person was brilliant and really brought me out of my shell, giving me the confidence to leave the house and get on with my life. I could go to college and think about my future, which at the time was something I just couldn’t see. They saved my life.
“After college I had another bad patch, so I saw the same counsellor, who once again helped me to carry on.”
At the time, North Staffs Mind ran a befriending scheme, and Mike promised himself that one day he would be well and would return to help other people.
He said: “The day came where I was doing very well in life. I’d achieved so many things that I thought were impossible for me; learning to drive, getting married, going to university and excelling, and having a career path planned out.”
Mike decided to volunteer with North Staffs Mind and was put in touch with the manager of the Maccas Project, which was set up in memory of Hartshill teen, Thomas McCauley, who took his own life aged 19.
Mike said: “The whole purpose of the Maccas Project is to save lives by reaching out to young men and teaching them about mental health and the stigma involved with it, with the aim of stopping people from taking their own lives when things get too much.
“We try to create awareness to break the stigma involved with mental health so anyone suffering can speak up, rather than bottle it up and contemplate taking their own lives.
“Stigma is one of the biggest hurdles when dealing with mental health, because people are suffering in silence. Even for me now it’s hard to open up to the world about my experiences, but if I can’t do it, then how can I expect anyone else to do the same.
“If I had taken my life all those years ago, I would have never got the chance to see the other side of all the pain and suffering I was feeling. That’s the side I want anyone who is suffering to see, and I want them to know that things can and do get better. That’s exactly what the Maccas project is all about.”