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Gravesend woman encourages people to talk about their mental health

PUBLISHED: 13:13 30 January 2018

Kate Dickens wants to encourage others to talk about their mental health. Picture: Fixers

Kate Dickens wants to encourage others to talk about their mental health. Picture: Fixers

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A young woman from Gravesend has created a booklet encouraging people to talk about their mental health with someone they feel comfortable with.

21-year-old Kate Dickens has teamed up with Fixers - the charity which gives young people a voice - to create the resource, which features her own story and those of her friends.

Ms Dickens, who first began struggling with her mental health at 12, is joined by others who describe in the booklet the conversations which helped them to cope.

She said: “I would restrict food and later purge as well.

“There were issues going on at home and I think it became a way to stay in control.

“Also when you’re feeling hungry all the time you don’t think about other things.”

Ms Dickens, who now studies English and Chemistry at Keele University, said the turning point came when she was around 16.

“I didn’t do very well in my AS level exams and it knocked me.

“I realised I needed to speak out about it.

“The fear of people finding out and taking the control away from me didn’t feel as great as me failing all my exams and everyone finding out that way.”

Kate confided in a teacher she trusted, and said that as soon as she’d verbalised the problem she was able to relax more.

“Nothing physically changed during that conversation, my problems were still there, but at least I didn’t have to face them alone.

“I had someone I could talk to if I ever needed help, someone who was willing to fight my battles with me and someone who understood, to some degree, what I was going through.

“My only regret walking away from the conversation was that I hadn’t done it sooner.”

Kate started her campaign to encourage more people to open up about their mental health through Girlguiding’s ‘Action for Change’ programme, approaching Fixers to help develop the booklet.

She launched her project at the Swale Youth Conference.

She added: “I’d like to share my booklet with other members of Girlguiding as well as other young people.”

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