In this story: Recovery /

During Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, we are sharing stories of recovery.

“North Ayrshire Wellbeing and Recovery College has given me back my life. Their connectivity in the community and opportunities to participate in courses led me to again believe that life is worth living.

Following a trauma, I suffered anxiety and depression, was unable to speak to people or go out alone and generally lost the will to live. Whilst on the waiting list for professional help my local surgery’s Community Link Worker referred me to NAWARC. Unfortunately, all courses were full. Several months later the current College Co-ordinators invited me to an open day, providing opportunities to meet staff and other prospective students.

Although it took two attempts for me to enter the building, I am so glad I did. A warm welcome was extended by all, which helped me relax into the session.  The variety and diversity of courses on offer impressed me and I felt comfortable enough to enrol.

Courses offered include those aimed at understanding personal mental health/wellbeing issues and helping you find strategies to aid recovery, as well as opportunities for personal development. Some are creativity based; arts, crafts, painting, drumming, poetry and Zen photography.

Courses were held in several North Ayrshire locations, initially for me attending courses was enough. I gradually got used to being around people again while learning new skills. COVID-19 prohibited that continuing. NAWARC quickly adapted to online provision via Zoom, courses became available by the end of March 2020.

Like many students I was reluctant to use zoom – not wanting to be seen or heard on camera. Nevertheless, following a pep-talk phone call, from Jeanette, NAWARC Co-ordinator, I got involved, soon becoming used to this new format.  As well as gaining deeper understanding of mental health/wellbeing and learning new things, Zoom meetings enabled me to connect at a time when in person meetings were impossible -crucial to positive mental health and reducing isolation.

The peer-to-peer course enables participants (me) to develop peer support skills and take up student placements with course tutors, helping facilitate online courses.

My outcome has been: connection; increased wellbeing; understanding of mental health; greater confidence; raised self-esteem; learning/gaining useful skills; readiness to help others; personal development; plus wanting to live!”

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