Andrews Agenda Enlightens and Engages.

Interview with Andrew Welcome, author of 'Do I Need Help?'

A determined man! A man who strives for change! And carries experience,  kindness, and support. Andrew Welcome, writer of the incredible book,  Do I need help? The Mental Health Diagnostic & Relapse Prevention Planner. agreed to meet with me and discuss his journey and future plans to help support patients suffering with mental health illnesses.

At the delicate age of three and four, Andrew suffered bereavement of his mother and grandfather. This type of pain and loss has been said to cause mental health issues later in life. Despite his loses he did very well in the army cadets and at school. After leaving school he worked in various jobs, in 1995 however, life became different for Andrew,  he was diagnosed with Bipolar II and attempted to end his own life in 1995 as he felt he would not recover and he could not see a way out, “Would not remain well”  were his own words . Due to this heartbreaking struggle and attempt to end it all,  he was left with internal bleeding and a fractured skull.

Andrew has come up against repetitive battles with his Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia alongside suicidal thoughts and still found the strength to see through a good amount of his business and marketing degree. He was incredibly close to completing this, there is a fire in his belly to achieve and I can see his achievements and journey have brought him to an inspiring stage of his life. I believe he will continue to do well as his passion and determination to help support others is exhilarating for not only others but importantly for Andrew himself. Andrew is currently stable and is focusing on his plans to complete a degree. All of Andrew’s goals and plans are helping support his current well-being and in future, his experience and knowledge will go on to support others within their personal journeys.

Andrew began writing in 2016, he would take himself to a local pub and find a quiet space to reflect and piece together his ideas. The writing was a distraction a way that he could find motivation and purpose, he said:

 

“There is something therapeutic about writing it gave me confidence in my recovery, helped me to learn things and handwriting works with subconscious”

 

As a writer myself I strongly agree with Andrew here, writing allows you to clear the mind and express your thoughts and opinions. Andrew’s battle has not been easy, he faced a time in his life where he felt completely responsible for the end of the world,  the stress, the fear and confusion that Andrew endured daily is heartbreaking. However, he is such an inspiration I cannot begin to explain, from being a mental health patient for many years who has been sectioned on 7 occasions, Andrew has made an incredible turn around and applied his life experience to create potentially, what I believe to be an incredibly useful and supportive documented process for mental health patients.

Andrew stresses that there is not enough relapse prevention support given to hospitals or support in educating patients about mental health illnesses. When a person has already suffered from a mental health illness the likelihood in this recurring is extremely high, from his personal experience he states,

 

 “once you are out of the acute stage of your illness you get sent home and there is a lack of robust support in the community’ to prevent relapse”

 

Statistics have shown that 53 percent of patients are readmitted and he wanted to find a way to prevent relapse and help others find a way out.  Andrew began to consider what he knew a lot about and what information was lacking in areas he may be able to support.  Two times a month he attends support groups held at St Martins Hospital, working here as a peer support worker. He has recently been working on funkyorangenetwork which will be an online support group.

“I am ready to never go back! And I am here to help build support networks and expand them across kent”.

Mental health illnesses can be a real daily challenge not dipping back into struggles that are faced is difficult. Andrew has no shame in admitting he has to much head space for his mental health to creep back, he needs to feel a constant sense of achieving results, working with and supporting others to feel good within himself, otherwise, he can become fed up. At times it can really feel like a roundabout with no possibility of slowing down! Andrew’s agenda is incredible and I strongly believe the book and plans for further educated support is a way to help support patients overcome these obstacles.

He has created this fantastic book that engages with different stages you may experience during relapse and ways triggers can be prevented through goal setting and engagement with understanding symptoms and signs. I feel it is an important part of learning to deal with mental health is knowing what you are dealing with, understanding triggers and ways to prevent them. Andrew’s personal experience is included, I felt that it provided me with a sense of not feeling alone and allowed me to question areas of my own personal experience from different angles I have not been presented with before. When engaging with this book and if the plan is followed, setting goals helps them to become concrete.  I am incredibly inspired by Andrew and his journey as despite the struggles he has been presented with he is determined to support others and see them tackle their battles and overcome them successfully. I strongly believe Andrew’s book Do I need help? The Mental Health Diagnostic & Relapse Prevention Planner is a fantastic way of supporting patients.  Andrew’s journey has inspired him and now this book carries the inspiration and support to help others and should be recognised and given to patients across Kent.

The passion that shone from Andrew as he told me his plans to build support networks on and offline, to self-publish and provide the NHS services across Kent with access to his book,  making them stronger, more supportive and effective procedures to prevent or decrease the chances of relapse. I for one am incredibly grateful to Andrew for sharing his story and providing me with a  copy of his book. I strongly believe Andrew should be supported by the success of this book as the content and thought that has gone into it has wonderful effects which could make a real change in the mental health departments.

Andrew is living proof it is possible!

Further information about Andrew’s book, Do I Need Help? The Mental Health Diagnostic & Relapse Prevention Planner can be found at http://www.doineedhelp.net

 

Jemma Burgess

Guest Contributor

My name is Jemma Burgess, I am a Theatre Maker. At the moment I am working on several projects, Firstly, I am an Artistic Assistant for an early - years theatre performance. Alongside this, I am volunteering with the Gulbenkian's youth theatre and participating in writing articles based on arts and the mental health. I am situated in Canterbury, Kent where I am also a member of the Rough Cut Collective, a community of emerging artists who, through creating work together and in partnership with Wise Words, develop the skills, experience, networks, and opportunities that give us the tools to shape not only our own careers but ultimately the wider cultural scene here in Kent. Last, but by no means least, I am working on an independent project to create my own children’s theatre production that I will be releasing in May 2019 at the Wise Words Festival.