Women who bonded at Leeds mental health unit launch project to help others

Three women from Leeds who became close friends while being treated at a mental health unit in the city have launched a project to help others suffering mental health problems.

Chloe Regan, 22, Jade Richards, 20, and Rosie Jacobs, 26, supported each other and became friends while they were being treated at the Becklin Centre in Leeds in July 2017.

They received shoeboxes full of gifts when they were at the mental; health unit and said the gesture made them feel less isolated

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Now they have launched a crowdfunding appeal for the Happy Box Project.

Happy Box Project: Pictured (from l to r) are Chloe Regan, Rosie Jacobs and Jade Richards.

The project will give people in hospital the opportunity to order a shoebox filled with gifts and useful items of their choice to help their recovery.

Miss Regan, of Pudsey, said she was treated at St James's Hospital before being sectioned under the Mental Health Act in July 2017

She said Rosie Jacobs who is a diabetic, was in the next bed at St James's after she had taken an overdose of insulin.

Miss Regan said: "We got talking and we really hit it off and we helped each other through the admission."

Miss Regan said she and Rosie Jacobs were both sectioned and transferred to the Becklin Centre, where they met Jade Richards and the three women soon became close friends.

Miss Regan said: "We all kept in touch and we meet up at least once every two weeks.

"We were all suffering mental health problems and we all realised that if we had met outside hospital we would have become friends because we all got on like a house on fire.

"We were all so supportive of each other and were always chatting on group chat and went on nights out.

Jade Richards, of Pudsey, who has been diagnosed with bipolar and psychosis, said: "We continue to see each other on a regular basis.

"We are there for each other and if someone is in crisis we will go and see them in hospital."

Miss Regan said: "It seems really trivial just receiving that box, but it helps you an incredible amount to know there are people out there who are caring. It gives you that push to carry on.

"Being in hospital can be very lonely and very isolating so receiving that box made me feel a lot less alone."

Miss Richards said people will be able to order a free box online and gifts will be tailored to their needs and could include sensory toys, colouring books bath bombs and nail varnish.

To support the appeal, go to the Happy Box Project on crowdfunding site gofundme.

Stephen Buckley, head of information at mental health charity Mind, said: “It’s wonderful that Chloe, Jade and Rosie met and bonded over their shared mental health experiences.

"They found that peer support provides a space to feel accepted and understood.

“We know that peer support can be really beneficial for those of us with mental health problems. How you choose to meet up or connect with others is very flexible and depends on your personal preferences.

"It’s a space where everyone's views and experiences are equally valued and can improve your emotional health, wellbeing and sense of belonging.

“Peer support might involve meeting in person or it might be something you access online – for example social media networks or platforms dedicated to online support, such as Mind's online community Elefriends.

“Although many people find peer support helpful, not everyone does. You might find that it doesn't suit you, or doesn't meet your needs. If you've tried something and it hasn't helped, it's important not to blame yourself. Your GP should be able to offer you a range of treatment options so that you can find the things that work best for you.”

For more information, go to www.mind.org.uk or call the Mind Infoline on 0300 123 3393. Lines are open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday (except for bank holidays)

Key stats

- One in four people will experience a mental health problem in any given year.

- Women are up to three times more likely to experience a mental health problem than men.

- In the UK, men are approximately three times more likely to take their own lives by suicide than women.

- The number of people who report experiencing a mental health problem has been increasing. This change is likely to be driven by a number of factors: an increase in the number of women experiencing mental health problems, more people coming forward and a greater understanding of symptoms such as self-harming.