High Peak group supporting carers of the mentally ill seeks new members

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A support group for carers of people with mental health illnesses is appealing for more members.

High Peak Mental Health Carers has been running for 15 years but has only ten members.

The group - which was originally funded by Derbyshire County Council - lost all of its funding a year ago but its coordinator Helen Cochrane hopes to reach out to others in the community struggling to support loved ones.

During its monthly meetings members receive crucial help from peers to deal with the pressure of caring for and battling against the prejudice directed against those with mental health issues.

Helen, 49, who is a full-time carer for her husband volunteers along with fellow members to keep the group going.

She estimates that carers such as those in her group save the Government millions of pounds in hospital admissions but often ‘bear the brunt’ of being permanently on the frontline.

She said: “We are different to generic carers groups which deal with elderly or disabled people.

“These are people with schizophrenia, bipolar or personality disorders.

“We talk about serious subjects - with mental illnesses things can be going quite well for a time then crises can happen.

“People can be sectioned or trying to take their own lives - there can be problems with drugs and alcohol and involvement with the police.”

When the group first began - as Buxton Stressbusters - members could access therapies such as massages but losing 100 per cent of its funding has meant scaling back to a buffet lunch and a supportive chat.

Helen said: “You can have understanding family and friends but there’s nothing better than talking to people who understand at a meeting.

“Quite often a person who is unwell hurts those nearest and dearest to them.”

Helen, who regularly meets with the police and mental health professionals to feed back to the group, wants to build the group covering the High Peak.

She said: “We feel there are others out there who could benefit from it.”

High Peak Mental Health Carers meets on the first Wednesday of every month at Buxton Methodist Church between 11.30am-1.30pm.

For more information phone Helen on 07791 219541 or email helencochrane2@gmail.com.