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Stamford and Bourne MP Gareth Davies: the story of former Bourne Town manager Jimmy McDonnell and Love Island presenter Caroline Flack remind us that mental health issues can happen to anyone

This week I read in this paper, the moving story of the former Bourne Town manager Jimmy McDonnell and his struggle with mental health. It was an incredibly frank and inspiring call to others to seek help and to talk about problems they may be having.

Indeed just last week we also heard the heart-breaking news that television presenter Caroline Flack has joined the growing list of well-known celebrities to take their own life.

With one-in-four suffering from mental problems in the UK today, stories like Caroline Flack’s remind us that mental health issues can happen to anyone, no matter how successful, wealthy or happy they may seem to be.

Bourne Town manager Jimmy McDonnell
Bourne Town manager Jimmy McDonnell

I was fortunate to recently visit our local charity MindSpace, set up by the energetic GP Dr Dan Petrie with a vision to help improve mental health in Stamford.

Their approach is one focused on building a community, partnering with volunteers and local organisations to encourage people to support each other.

Later in the day I met with Evergreen Care Trust, a Stamford-based organisation that runs a number of events and programmes to tackle loneliness among older people.

Dr Dan Petrie
Dr Dan Petrie

They host social lunches that enable attendees to make new friends, and in fact they also run a specific befriender project which matches caring volunteers with people who may be feeling lonely.

Loneliness in particular is a real challenge that cuts across our community and there are people who can go for days, weeks or even a month without seeing a friend or family member.

Late last year the Prime Minister launched the government’s loneliness strategy which sets out to empower GPs to refer patients experiencing loneliness to community activities and voluntary organisations, like Mind Space.

A community-based approach is vital to improving mental wellbeing, but it starts with the basic premise that if we all do our bit to check on each other and listen more, hopefully people will feel less alone and more cared for.

  • Samaritans offer FREE round the clock, confidential support to anyone that wants to talk through their problems. Call Samaritans on 116 123, calls are free from any phone, or visit their website.

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