A pioneering shop in Doncaster town centre which provides drop-in advice and support for people experiencing issues with their mental health has been praised as best practice within the NHS.
The Talking Shop at 63 Hall Gate, which is run by Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH), provides access to psychological therapies for common problems such as depression, panic and phobias, as well as free information and advice. It was recently named as the best practice example of how regions are helping to provide high street access to therapy without stigma by NHS England.
Doncaster woman Emma Stewart (44), a former solicitor found out first-hand about the support the Talking Shop provides when she dropped in after being off work for three years with work-related stress and depression.
Emma said: “Just over two years ago my illness was so debilitating that I could barely leave the house, and couldn’t even face talking to people on the phone.
“I’d heard about the Talking Shop from my GP but it took me some time to push myself into making the trip into town – however it was the best decision I’ve ever made!”
After undergoing an assessment, Emma received individual counseling sessions and has attended a number of group therapy courses, which have helped her find the right solutions to deal with her feelings.
She said: “I’ve come such a long way in the past couple of years, and thanks to the Talking Shop my life is now so much better.
“I’d felt so isolated at home and I wish I hadn’t waited so long to come and get the help I needed.”
She added: “When you come here and join group sessions you realise there are more people than you think who are experiencing the same problems as you, and you’re not on your own.
“The Talking Shop practitioners completely understand everything you’re feeling and they work with you to break the cycle of your negative thoughts. There’s always someone there to call along the way if you’re having any problems.”
RDaSH Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner Jane Crothers said: “Around one in four people in the UK will experience some kind of problem with their mental health each year, but people are often embarrassed to admit to how they feel or ask for help.
“When people feel physically ill they don’t worry about telling their friends or employers, and seek help straight away to make them better. Mental health problems should be treated in exactly the same way – it’s not a sign of weakness when you admit to having them.”
Jane added: “Here at the Talking Shop, people can refer themselves by popping in, or they can go to their GP first if they prefer.
“When they come in one of our practitioners will assess them and then make an appointment where we can agree a way forward to help them.
“We offer a range of courses, which last around eight weeks, at various times during the day and evening to cater for people who are working, as well as providing individual therapies.”
Thanks to the support provided by the Talking Shop Emma is now feeling well enough to make a return back to work, and is even considering a complete change in her career direction.
She said: “I’d advise anyone suffering at home in silence to visit the Talking Shop, even if it’s just to pick up information on the range of support they offer.
“I’m living proof of the excellent work they do!”
For more information about the Talking Shop, please visit https://iapt.rdash.nhs.uk/, ring (01302) 565650, or call into the Talking Shop at 63 Hall Gate in Doncaster’s town centre (open weekdays between 9am and 5pm.)
To read NHS England’s full report please visit: https://www.england.nhs.uk/mentalhealth/2016/07/27/psychological-therapies/