FRIENDS of a mum found dead in woodland have said they wished they had known the extent of her poor mental health and are urging people to look out for others who are suffering.
Health workers have told The News of crucial signs to watch out for in friends and family who may need help.
It comes as a group of women paid tribute to the ‘amazing’ young mum found dead in the Queen’s Inclosure woods in Waterlooville.
Pals said Martha Williamson, 28, had a long-term battle with poor mental health. On the day of her death, April 17, Martha left behind a poem and letters for her loved ones, including her five-year-old daughter.
‘Alarm bells’ started ringing with Martha’s best friends when she did not arrive to pick her daughter up from school last Tuesday.
Her best friend, 24-year-old Paige Weeks, from Waterlooville, said she burst into tears on hearing the bad news.
She said: ‘I’m all over the place. I knew Martha was struggling a bit, but I didn’t realise it was quite so bad.
‘I wish she’d called out to us for help sooner. She loved to have a laugh and did everything she could for her daughter – we’ll miss her so much.’
Martha suffered from a number of mental health issues including depression, which stopped her working.
When she did not pick her daughter up from school, a teacher and a friend visited her Waterlooville home.
After finding letters and a poem penned by her, the pair became concerned for her welfare and called 999.
Martha’s body was found in the woods shortly after 4pm.
Devastated Louise Kneller, 29, added: ‘When I got the call to say Martha had been found dead, I was in so much shock.
‘I met her 11 years ago at the bar at Havant and Waterlooville Football Club. She came from Scotland to start a new life. She joined my friendship group and we found her to be a bubbly and fun-loving person, who always put others first.
‘We knew she had mental health issues but she didn’t let on how bad they were. I wish she told us how bad things had gotten – she really was one in a million.
‘She tried to overcome her battles, but I think it all became too much for her. We’re heartbroken.’
Louise, a carer, added: ‘Martha was an amazing mum. I’d urge people who know someone with mental health issues to see if they’re okay, because you don’t know how bad things could be.’
Martha was from Dumfries, where she had lived with her foster parents.
An inquest to determine the cause of her death is set for September at Portsmouth Coroner’s Court.
Two charities supporting people of different ages with mental health problems have said help is always available.
Solent Mind, which operates across the area, offers a range of services for adults suffering with mental health illnesses.
The charity works with health providers but also has a wellbeing centre in Palmerston Road, Southsea, where people can drop in.
Alex Long, wellbeing manager, said the centre is open six days a week and evenings for people to get advice.
And he said there are some key signs people can look out for if they think a loved-one has mental health problems.
‘All mental health problems are different in every person,’ he said.
‘But there are some signs if someone is getting depressed or feeling suicidal.’
They include withdrawing from social events, lack of self care, lack of interest in activities they used to love and irritability.
Alex added: ‘When you see these symptoms together, that could be a problem.
‘Communication is key. Don’t be afraid to open an honest dialogue with people.’
Solent Mind offers services from a pier support team, made of people who used to suffer with mental health problems and have recovered; one-on-one and groups sessions; employment support and workshops.
Meanwhile, teenagers and young adults can also get support for mental health problems.
No Limits offers advice for anyone under age 26 who lives in Hampshire.
Its services include the Moving On Project in Fareham and Gosport and one of its partners is Havant-based Off the Record.
Jayne Reeves, service manager for Hampshire Youth Access (HYA), said: ‘We offer specific services for different age groups. That includes advice centres, counselling and one-to-one support.
‘Since starting three years ago we have seen our numbers steadily increase.
‘It is imperative young people and their parents know we exist and there is always someone to help.’
Information on where to get help
Solent Mind contact information:
Website - solentmind.org.uk.
Information line (open 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday) - 0300 123 3393
Wellbeing Centre, Palmerston Road, Southsea, (open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday)
Free telephone number (open 24 hours day) - 116 123.
Website - nolimitshelp.org.uk.
Counselling number - 02380 224224.