Worthing father sets up mental health support group but calls for review of care

A father of three has set up an online support group for people experiencing mental health issues.

Jeremy Ramsden, 43, who has struggled with his mental health since he was a teenager, is calling for a shake-up of how mental health patients are handled by surgeries.

He was diagnosed with depression and anxiety last year and, in December, said he saw his mental health decline further.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

“I’ve got a loving wife and three kids, I’ve got everything to live for,” said Jeremy, from Tarring, who is the managing director of a training business.

Jeremy Ramsden with his wife, Clair, and their three children SUS-210125-150355001

“But around Christmas time I was thinking, ‘What’s the point?’ and questioning my existence. I was looking at my family and thinking ‘could they manage without me?’.” Jeremy’s wife, Clair, booked him an appointment at the St Lawrence Surgery in Worthing, with the first Jeremy hearing of it being a cancellation text message.

He suggested surgeries could find an alternative to text message cancellations for mental health appointments.

“That could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said. “The only thing that stopped me from taking my life that day was my wife.”

Jeremy turned to mental health charity MIND, but warned surgeries should look to become more sensitive to the specific needs of mental health patients.

He said there was ‘stacks of support’ for people struggling mentally through charities such as Samaritans and MIND, or even going to A&E to see a triage nurse.

He has also set up a Facebook group – It’s Ok Not To Be Ok; speak up, be heard – where people struggling with their mental health can support each other.

Josiane Wadey, practice business manager at St Lawrence Surgery, which has an ‘outstanding’ rating from the Care Quality Commission, said the surgery could not comment on individual patients but took mental health extremely seriously.

“We encourage any of our patients to contact us if they are struggling with their mental health,” said Mrs Wadey. “St Lawrence Surgery has been recognised nationally for the mental health service we offer. We have received a PACE Setter award for our work and initiatives working with patients struggling with their mental health, and a recent national survey reported that our patients felt we provided excellent mental health care.

“We offer a range of support, including a Mental Health GP lead, close work with the charity MIND and have both a Mental Health Liaison Practitioner and Primary Care Mental Health Worker based at the practice.”

The surgery offers telephone and e-consultations as well as face-to-face appointments, Mrs Wadey added. “We hope this reassures our patients that we do care passionately about the level of care and support that we endeavour to offer at all times,” she said.

n Anyone who needs support can contact their GP, charity MIND by calling 0300 123 3393, or Samaritans by calling 116 123.