Gary aims to bridge the mental health gap

MEMBERS Gary Martin, Gary Bricknell and Marie Perkiss  '   Picture: Malcolm Wells (131447-6652)
MEMBERS Gary Martin, Gary Bricknell and Marie Perkiss ' Picture: Malcolm Wells (131447-6652)
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DAY treatment helped get Gary Martin to get his life back on track after he suffered from a mental illness.

But what he noticed afterwards was a waiting ‘gap’ from recovery to getting a place in a support group.

So last August, the 38-year-old decided to create his own group.

Called Mind the Gap, the weekly sessions help other people through the process.

Gary, of Broxhead Road, in Havant, said: ‘I was working full time as a pub manager and was doing about 100 hours a week, which caused me to have a breakdown.’

Gary found help through The Orchards, which is run by Solent NHS Trust.

The centre in Locksway Road, Milton, Portsmouth, provides day care treatment for people suffering from mental illnesses.

Around this time last year, Gary started his 10 weeks in day treatment.

‘When you leave your treatment, you are sent back to your GP, and if you want to use another service for support, there can be a waiting gap – as long as 15 weeks,’ added Gary who now works at St James’ Hospital.

‘I thought it would be a good idea to set up a group to bridge that gap.

‘It enables people to see familiar faces and keep on using the skills they learnt in day treatment.’

The free group is currently funded by Arts for Arts – an umbrella charity under the health trust.

The group meets at the Sellers Coffee House, on the corner of Kent Road and Castle Road, in Southsea, every Wednesday, from 10am to midday.

Members talk about their week, give themselves a mood rating out of 10, and listen to other members’ stories.

Activities are also done, such as textiles and creative writing.

A 44-year-old group member from Portsmouth, who does not wish to be named, said the sessions help him.

He said: ‘I went to The Orchards at a very low point in my life, and it was a massive help.

‘Mental health issues can make you feel very isolated, but the group really makes you feel like a part of something, and I can’t thank them enough.’