A campaign aimed at encouraging people to be open about their personal difficulties and feelings hopes to spread its message far and wide, as it aims to become an official registered charity.
The Just Talk Campaign, a non-profit organisation based at the ExploringU Centre for Wellbeing in Station Road, Sudbury, was launched in November by Glenda Roberts and Sharon Kendall, who identified a local need for a personal therapy service, following a number of suicides in the area.
Offering free individual and group therapy sessions, the charity is looking to gain charity status by the end of this month, and is now training youth ambassadors to visit schools, colleges and universities around the country, to reach out to younger demographics who feel unable to speak about their issues.
Seb Wehmeyer, a Sudbury resident and one of the youth ambassadors, began attending Just Talk sessions after his brother took his own life eight months ago.
“It was completely out of the blue,” he said. “I had no idea he felt that way, no idea he was down.
“That was the thing that hit myself and my family the hardest, not knowing exactly how he felt.
“I came along to a group session. I didn’t want to talk at first. But seeing how other people were caring, genuinely nice and thoughtful about what the other person was saying, I thought ‘I can talk about this, and nobody is going to judge me for that’.
“I came out of it feeling like it was almost a weight off my shoulders. After that, I said if I could do this for one person who is not happy, and give them the confidence to say something – perfect.”
Seb added that when he starts university in September, he intends to use the skills he has learned with the Just Talk campaign to reach out to more people his age, explaining that young men are most at risk due to various stresses in their life.
“It has made a massive difference,” he said. “Taking on board the ethos of talking about problems, it really helped my family, being a family that didn’t really talk about things. Now I can talk about anything.
“My brother was in and out of jobs. Obviously he didn’t know what he wanted to do – he was jumping job to job.
“That’s probably what it was – this sort of disbelief in himself. Even if it wasn’t that, had he come to a group session, he would have known what it (the problem) was.”
Ms Roberts, an accredited psychotherapist and Just Talk Campaign co-founder, said the charity’s objective is to be inclusive to anybody who feels isolated or lost in life, and they were determined to remove barriers, such as the negative stigma attached to mental health.
“Talking does help. If you’re able to get it out, you feel much lighter,” she said.
“If you keep it all in, you’re in your own thoughts, and you’ve got your own perception of things and, sometimes, it’s a distorted perception.
“If you’re able to talk about it, we can help people to understand their thought processes. When people change their thought processes, they can change themselves.”
She added they hope to expand their reach over the coming years, but no matter how big the charity gets, there will be no waiting list for anyone seeking therapy.
Held monthly, the next Just Talk session is on June 24, from 10am to 2pm. For more information, go to www.justtalkcampaign.co.uk.