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Mental Health Awareness Week: “I couldn’t do normal, basic things without feeling fear.”

10 May 2018

Ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week (14 – 20 May), a patient who used the Hounslow Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service, delivered by West London Mental Health NHS Trust, has opened up about the help he gained from using its online therapy platform, My Mind Matters.

Stephen, 48, experienced a major panic attack in November last year while taking his son to school. He said: “I remember feeling overwhelmed, as if I was going to collapse. I was sweating and had palpitations, my breathing was rapid and it felt like I was having a heart attack. It wasn’t a good feeling.”

Soon after, Stephen began finding it difficult to leave his home. “I couldn’t go shopping without feeling dizzy. I couldn’t do normal, basic things without feeling fear. Even simple tasks, like talking to my neighbour, left me feeling anxious within 10 seconds.

“I had been working extra hours at work and constantly helping out when other staff were unavailable. There was always constant change, demand was high and I had no work/life balance. The stress built up over time and hit me all at once.”

Stephen decided to visit his GP and referred him to the Hounslow IAPT service. Following an assessment, he chose online therapy and selected courses relating to anxiety and stress at work in order to support his wellbeing.

He explained: “I didn’t have time to attend face-to-face appointments and needed support quickly. For two months, I was off sick from work because of my mental health, and knew I needed help. Online therapy was easier to access and I could go through each course whenever I had free time, like when my children went to school.

“Using the stress at work module helped me a lot. For over 20 years, my job has involved me looking after other people. The course made me realise that I need to look after myself too. I received a lot of positive feedback from my therapist, she would always say ‘well done’ and give me words of encouragement to get through each course. I emailed her with any questions or concerns and she’d always email back straightaway.

“My friends and family helped me a lot when I was on sick leave, but to the point where I had started to rely on them. The module taught me that I had to keep trying and encouraged me to change.”

Stephen has now returned to work and says he feels more confident. “Since taking online therapy, I feel happier. It is a fantastic service that has helped me immensely. I’m now being more assertive at work and am saying ‘no’ more so that I can take care of myself first. I’m also spending more quality time with my family – they look forward to seeing me at the end of the day, and I really value what I’ve got.

In Mental Health Awareness Week, Stephen wants others to know that recovery is possible. He added:

“There is hope for others who are feeling stressed out like I was. Mental health is a serious issue, and because our lifestyles are so fast-paced and we’re switched on 24/7, our stress is worsening. Men do tend to stay in their shells more, but it’s important to speak to someone.

“Before I did online therapy, I couldn’t forgive and I couldn’t forget. Since taking the course, I have put things into perspective and I can now forgive and forget. The online therapy service has been fantastic for me and changed my outlook when I was at a low point in my life. I would really encourage others to consider using it.”

There is a wide range of information, support and resources available. To find out more about the My Mind Matters online therapy platform, please go to

West London Mental Health NHS Trust is supporting the Green Ribbon Campaign during Mental Health Awareness Week to help end mental health stigma.

The Trust is also working with the Wellbeing Network in Hounslow to host a Human Library event. This event is based on the tradition of borrowing a book from a library but is instead an opportunity to borrow a person. This person becomes a ‘human book’ and has a title that you can choose and borrow from a list.

WLMHT contact details:

For further information, please contact West London Mental Health NHS Trust’s communications team on or 020 8483 2283.

Follow us on Twitter @WestLondonNHS