While Christmas is a joyous time for most it can also prove a challenging time for stress levels, and it's even harder for those with mental-health conditions.
Three North East women who overcame their own mental health experiences are aiming to transform the lives of others after joining forces to set up a bespoke counselling service.
Andrea Bartlett, Lynsey Curry, and Madeleine Hauxwell are each co-founders of One Place Together, a new service supported by the University of Sunderland.
It's designed to provide affordable and accessible care.
The counselling service says mental health problems are beginning to gain greater understanding in wider society, but issues around stigma, cost, and the accessibility of help are still prevalent.
Especially considering the North East has the highest suicide rates in the UK according to ONS figures.
Co-founder of the services Lynsey Curry says her experience of mental healthcare is not unique.
I went to the doctors at the age of 16 and broke down in tears, the first thing I got was a prescription of antidepressants, I felt like a failure,”
Each of the founders had their own disappointing experiences with mental health care that inspired them to embark on the journey to becoming qualified counsellors. Andrea herself was a victim of an armed robbery while at work and had to juggle providing for her family and fulfilling her dream.
Our vision for One Place Together is for counselling to be accessible to anyone who needs the service, to provide it at an affordable price, and to provide that counselling at the point of contact for the client with no waiting list and for as long as the client requires it. Mental health is just as important as physical health and help is available in a nonjudgmental, safe environment.”