As part of our Let’s Talk About It campaign, a Barnstaple father has spoken out above how his son’s suicide led him to verge of his own breakdown.
Mental health issues are on the bottom rung of the ladder when it comes to health funding – according to a bereaved Barnstaple father.
Paul Stevens was left on the verge of his own breakdown following the suicide of his son Daniel in August 2012.
Paul, 49, returned to work the day after police knocked on the door to deliver the devastating news but struggled to come to terms with his grief.
He bottled up months of pain before eventually visiting his GP and finding help through psychotherapy.
And only later did he stumble upon other support available, including that offered by local charitable organisations such as Barnstaple-based Clarity.
Four years on, Paul is raising thousands of pounds for the charity in Daniel’s memory – and in recognition of the vital work the organisation does to ‘plug the gap’ left by statutory services.
“Mental health is always on the bottom rung of the ladder,” said Paul a self-employed gunsmith.
“There is always money available to help people stop smoking but there are too many gaps for people to fall through when it comes to mental health.
“Sometimes people don’t get the right response when they speak to their GP – often it is easier to just give people a prescription.
“Dealing with a suicide will be different for everyone. It doesn’t hurt all the time and while it doesn’t ever go away, it does get better.
“You have to find what suits you; for me it was psychotherapy, although I’d have liked to have been offered something like Clarity.”
Funded by grants and donations – and run by volunteers – Clarity offers therapeutic counselling, group support and group therapy to anyone experiencing mental health or emotional issues.
Counselling is delivered by qualified counsellors who all donate their time for free.
The charity also runs two lottery-funded groups. The Bereaved Through Suicide group helps people explore how they can move to a place of healing, while the Art Discovery Group offers 18-24-year-olds a fun, supportive and non-judgmental group in which to meet other people, build self-esteem and explore their feelings through art.
“There are 16 counsellors who see four clients a week and there are around 30 people wanting support on the waiting list”, said Paul, whose Three Little Birds charity raises money exclusively for Clarity.
In July, a charity walk from Instow to Barnstaple Rugby Club raised more than £10,500 for the charity.
“The service is run on peanuts,” said Paul.
“None of the counsellors get paid and some of them are young people starting out in the profession.
“But the charity is plugging a vital gap; if you took it away I couldn’t even begin to imagine the knock-on effect it would have.”
For more information about Clarity, call 01271 267474, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.claritynorthdevon.org.uk or find the office at 104a Boutport Street, Barnstaple.
You can also follow ‘Daniel Stevens Three little birds, raising money for Clarity’ on Facebook.