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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Barrow mental health unit will help to combat ‘stigma’ - campaigner

A BARROW mental health awareness champion and blogger says he wishes a new facility in Barrow had been available when he needed help.

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‘VITAL SERVICE’ Mental health campaigner and blogger Stephen Turner, who has welcomed the opening of a new mental health facility in Abbey Road, Barrow. Inset: the interior of the facility

Stephen Turner was left suffering from anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and agoraphobia after a violent childhood. He is waiting for treatment for post traumatic stress disorder.

The 56-year-old from Walney said it was important to support Glengarth House, in Abbey Road, and help work towards lifting the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Surrounding residents had expressed their concerns about the unit opening.

It has been backed by Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock, who has suffered from depression and said anyone could end up suffering and need the help of the facility.

The 14-bed residential unit for men with mental health needs was officially opened last Friday and is run by Northern Health Care. It offers assisted living and support to its clients. Those staying there would have a long-term diagnosis for disorders such as bipolar, depression and schizophrenia.

Mr Turner, who now volunteers and is a champion of Time to Change – a campaigning group to try and end the stigma surrounding mental health – said the unit was a step in the right direction.

He added: “As a service user I think it is vital we have such services available. When I came out of Ridge Lea Hospital in Lancaster there was nothing like that available to me.

“Anyone and I mean anyone can develop mental health issues. It really can affect anyone from the cradle to the grave. It’s your body reacting to stress.

“No one should have any concerns about this facility. One in four people ends up having issues with mental health and it’s unfair to label someone as everyone is different.

“Mental health issues are the body’s coping mechanism and a reaction to circumstances.

“We still need to change the way some people in society view mental health.

“It is nothing to be ashamed of.”

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