Cath BaconFifty-three-year-old Cath Bacon experienced anxiety during COVID-19, after self-isolating since the pandemic began. This coupled with a number of health issues and disabilities prompted Cath to seek support to tackle her mental health.

Cath explained: “The idea of going out was petrifying because I’d been shielding for so long, as I’d been on the clinically extremely vulnerable list. I was going back to work after restrictions had lifted and I felt anxious about leaving the house, as I’d spent so long at home not going out at all.”

Having previously self-referred to MyWellbeing College to overcome issues with low-self-esteem and anxiety, Cath felt it was time to reconnect with the service that had helped her in the past.

MyWellbeing College is a free NHS service that is run in partnership by Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust and local voluntary and community organisations such as Bradford Counselling Services and the Cellar Trust. It offers learning and support for people that might be feeling low, unable to sleep, anxious or stressed through a range of online courses, links to websites and resources for help. 

Cath continued: “Because I’d had such success with last year’s therapies, I reached out to MyWellbeing again and they were absolutely amazing. My therapist helped talk me through some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and some realisations about how to protect myself and to cope with my anxiety. Now I’m confident in where I can go, and what I can do, and who I can interact with.”

Explaining what the catalyst was for originally seeking help with MyWellbeing College, Cath said: “My employer offers an occupational health check every year. I was fine until they asked me how I was.  I felt like I was getting more tired and not keeping up with my colleagues and feeling very down about it.  Looking back, I realised I was entering into a bad cycle – I would become poorly and go off work, I’d then come back and feel like I had to prove that I could do 100 per cent. I’d push too hard and end up becoming ill again.

“It was actually COVID coming and me having to shield that made me take the impetus to actually listen to what the occupational therapist had to say and to talk to someone about me having very low self-esteem. I contacted MyWellbeing College and did a self-referral and had therapy around self-esteem, wellbeing and accepting that I am disabled.  My therapist encouraged me to practice mindfulness. The first time I tried it I thought to myself ‘this is a load of claptrap’ and then it started working.  Now whenever I feel down or anxious, I take myself off and quietly breathe and bring myself back to being okay. That was the single most useful thing about learning to accept myself for who I am and that it’s okay, not to be okay.”

Reaching out to MyWellbeing College, Cath was able to overcome her anxiety, crediting the support from the service with giving her the tools she needed to help to tackle the problem.

Cath said: “I now have confidence and I do believe if you can help someone – you must pass it on.” Cath works for the UK’s largest union as a local organiser and represents members who need support, advice and information. Cath added: “I’ve always enjoyed working and helping other people. MyWellbeing College gave me the confidence not to panic and to be able to expand on what I was capable of.  That’s the legacy of the therapy that I’ve had from them. I think they’re amazing.”

MyWellbeing College is open to anyone over the age of 16 who is registered with a GP in Bradford, Wharfedale, Airedale or Craven.

People don’t have to go through their GP to enrol on a course, they can register online at www.bmywellbeingcollege.nhs.uk

For information on all mental health and wellbeing support services in Bradford and Craven and self-help resources and apps, visit www.healthyminds.services.