Help for youngsters fighting depression

PUBLISHED: 10:41 28 August 2013

The Project  founder Debbie Humberstone

The Project founder Debbie Humberstone


Groundbreaking mental health scheme set to launch in Axminster thanks to local mum

A groundbreaking mental health scheme for young people takes off in Axminster next week – thanks to the inspiration of a local mother.

Haunted by her daughter’s plea to “let me die” Debbie Humberstone began a campaign to help other youngsters fight depression.

Now, thanks to her successful fundraising efforts, a new support group called The Project will launch on Thursday, September 5.

It aims to help young people aged 12 to 24 across East Devon, West Dorset and South Somerset – as well as their parents and carers - by providing mutual support and new friendships, and fresh ways of handling emotional difficulties.

Two age groups - for 12-16s and 16-24s - will meet on alternate weeks for two hour sessions.

Art, cooking, music and drama activities, along with discussions, support and relaxation will be led by a qualified mental health worker, a youth leader and a team of volunteers.

The emphasis will be on supporting young people’s emotional and mental health, as well as building self esteem and confidence in a fun, friendly and non-judgemental environment .

A monthly support group for parents and carers will be run separately.

Said Debbie: “Thereʼs nothing exactly like The Project for young people nationally, yet statistics show that three young people in every class in every school across the country have a diagnosable mental health problem.”

Debbie raised £25,000 to bring The Project to Axminster’s Young Peoples’ Centre, where Mayor Jeremy Walden, will be guest of honour for the launch between 4.30 pm and 8pm.

Debbie launched The Project after revealing how, in 2009, her teenager daughter, Jess, had pleaded with her to let her end her life.

“It was the most heartbreaking and devastating moment of my life – a true moment of despair,” she said.

“Nothing prepares you for your child being affected by a mental illness. I can only describe it as truly shocking, terrifying ... and utterly bewildering.

“Jess honestly believed that my life, and that of the rest of her family, would be better without her. She had reached a point where she could no longer see any reason to be alive.”

But Jess was put on the road to recovery after receiving specialist in-patient treatment and went on to regain her confidence and self-worth.

Added Debbie: “Mental health issues are becoming increasingly common. Offering support, and investing time and effort in young people at this level is worthwhile, if it stops one person developing long-term mental health problems. The Project will provide that much needed support.”

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