Recovering from post-natal depression was a life-changing process for Debbie Butler. Over the past 20 years her confidence and self-esteem have increased, making positive changes to her mental health. Debbie attributes the changes in her life to her decision to become a volunteer helping with clinical research studies within Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
Living with post-natal depression for many years, Debbie was isolated, withdrawn from friends and society. A chance encounter led to a voluntary role within a local charity, this then encouraged Debbie to become a patient involvement representative at the day centre she attended to help her with her depression. Over the years, Debbie volunteered for more and more involvement roles within the Trust, while still living with her post-natal depression.
“I was in my own little world, surrounded by baby stuff. It was a horrible time, I wasn’t well enough to engage with my daughter. I’d lost friends over the years from just sitting on the sofa. I’d always worked, so this was a way of getting that part of my life back. It made me feel good. It’s been a really good experience, given me social skills and back to work skills.”
Debbie’s volunteering career has blossomed in recent years and she is now Involvement Team Leader for the MindTech team, based at the Institute of Mental Health. (MindTech MedTech Co-operative is a national centre focusing on the development, adoption and evaluation of new technologies for mental healthcare and dementia).
Leading a team of six volunteers, Debbie and her team work on different research studies advising academic and clinical researchers on how to work in the best possible way with patients and members of the public.
“I love doing what I do. It’s a very personal decision to want to get involved with research studies, but I’ve met lots of people over the years who have all benefited so much from doing it, just like I have.”
Debbie is about to take on another big challenge by taking part in a sponsored walk along the Great Wall of China for the Mental Health Foundation. As a charity with a very personal connection to Debbie, she’s excited about the adventure ahead and is busy fundraising towards a £3,100 target. She’s started a “Follow the panda” Facebook page so that supporters can follow her training and fundraising in the run up to the trip:
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Take a look at NHS England’s website to find out what else is being planned for the big day and for more information on how to get involved. https://www.england.nhs.uk/nhs70/