A COVENTRY student who was left housebound by agoraphobia is backing a new mental health campaign.
Holly Morrison was unable to step outside her front door for a year after a series of anxiety attacks.
Now the 22-year-old is supporting Time To Change, a campaign to tackle the stigma faced by young people with mental health problems.
It comes as new research shows nearly a quarter of young people in the West Midlands would stop spending time with a friend who was suffering from depression.
Holly said: “It was overwhelming to see how many negative attitudes are still out there.
“People told me, you’ve got nothing to be stressed or anxious about. You’re still a kid.”
Holly began suffering anxiety attacks when she was 16. They would strike without warning in classrooms or exam halls.
Typically her heart rate spiked and she began sweating and shaking.
By the time the pains in her chest began she felt an uncontrollable urge to “get out” of wherever she was.
Holly said: “There was one time I had to get up and walk out of assembly in front of the whole school.”
Frightened and confused, Holly kept her problems secret until she suffered a breakdown months later.
She said: “A big cloud came over me. I was so overwhelmed I felt like I was on another planet.
“I didn’t think I would ever be able to go out again. Even going from one room to another was a problem.”
Holly was referred to a psychiatrist, who helped her leave the house for a car ride.
He then slowly built up her contact with the outside world.
The final step was for Holly to walk through a busy supermarket alone.
She is now studying occupational therapy at Coventry University and works part time for the Time For Change campaign, running presentations and training for teachers, health workers and police officers.
Holly said: “It took a long time before I was ready to try new things. I still have good and bad days.”
Time To Change has released a new video, The Stand Up Kid, aimed at stamping out the stigma faced by young people in the West Midlands.
Mental health problems often start during the teenage years, and around 90 per cent of those young people are affected by stigma.
The discrimination they face often comes from those closest to them, including friends and teachers.
Sue Baker, director of Time To Change, said society “desperately needed to change” negative attitudes towards mental health and it was important to reach young people before their views became entrenched.
from the Coventry Telegraph