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Andy's story

Andy Jones from Falmouth currently works as a project manager for Active Plus, a Community Interest Company (CIC) based in Truro. The project he works on tackles really serious issues for people in Cornwall, such as social exclusion, working with participants with complex mental health needs and ultimately trying to get them back into work or training.

Andy has been through his own mental health journey. Back in 2009 he joined the parachute regiment and, on a tour of Afghanistan, was injured by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device), suffering fragmentation wounds to the leg. This was a catalyst for Andy in terms of his mental health issues. He went on to have relationship problems, losing his home and his job. Things spiralled from there, moving between jobs and living in the back of his car with a couple of bin bags for his belongings.

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In the end Andy got the help he needed and was able to get his life back on track. The experiences that Andy has had have helped him to relate to the people he is now working with. He finds that there is something comforting in knowing you’re not unique, knowing other people have gone through similar things and come out the other end.

If people are struggling with mental health Andy has this key piece of advice:

“I think it would be to keep talking, you don’t have to be an expert to talk about mental health, just try and give some guidance and support, being able to open up about your own experiences really helps to build trust.

“People can make assumptions that because outwardly, someone looks ok, they may look strong, be well dressed, have a good job, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a mental health problem and everyone has their own problems. I find talking about some of the good experiences I have had help show people that they can come through this as well. It’s good to be able to tell people that when you have been rock bottom, the only way is up. The best advice I can give to people is to talk to someone.”

"I think the stigma attached to mental health is very much in our own heads and self-promoted. In the military when I finally started opening up to people I found there was a shoulder to lean on and there was an avenue of support to go down. It’s important for people to know that even when they are suffering and having those down days they’ve still got so much to offer as a person.”

To find out more about the services that Active Plus can offer, visit the Active Plus website.