Jenny's story of kindnesses and support in Chanctonbury

September 2020

People living in rural West Sussex had difficulties accessing mental health support before West Sussex Mind’s Chanctonbury service opened in 2019. Service user Jenny describes how things have changed for her

I’ve always felt on my own before but now I feel like I’m being taken care of.

I first heard about the Chanctonbury service when I saw a poster in my local library. I had no idea there was that accessibility in rural areas. It came at just the right time for me. I have had issues with my mental health for around 20 years and at the start of this year I knew it was happening again. I couldn’t avoid it. Of course I have coping strategies but could feel myself slipping away.

Seeing that poster changed everything. I met Alison from West Sussex Mind at a drop-in at the library, and saw her twice before lockdown. Despite the pandemic, things have been so different for me this time. I felt safe from that first conversation, and it stopped the rot. I still went through the depression but I felt safer. It has felt like a bit of a guardian angel.

I was in hospital in 2003, when my son was two. There was the promise of a PCN (psychiatric community nurse), but one didn’t materialise and I was left on my own. Before finding West Sussex Mind I’d never found a way in to receiving help that wasn’t medicalised. It has been very hard, to be so ill and it being impossible to travel to Worthing or Horsham for help.

I just want to say a great big thank you – not just for me but for all the other local people who can now get help where they need it. The team have worked so hard to offer services during lockdown. I can’t tell you the kindnesses. Because of the groups you feel like you’re part of something. We have workshops with practical tips and suggestions, and all so sweetly done.

I just want to say a great big thank you. I really respect the people running the Chanctonbury service. They’re remarkable people.