If you have experienced struggles with mental health and feel you are in strong place to help others who are fighting, please be in touch. You will need to:
- Be strongly committed to helping others
- Have experienced mental health issues in order to relate to those seeking help
- Be willing to talk about your own experiences
Talking about your struggles is hard, and we therefore only accept volunteers who can be candid about their experiences and willing to devote time to helping this cause.
This isn't for everyone, so we urge you to think carefully about volunteering. Don't feel bad if you can't, like I said, talking about this is tough, we totally get it. You can always help in other ways, so if you have an idea for fundraising or have suggestions for the website please be in touch!
Jane Jackson, is passionate about sharing her knowledge and techniques for releasing trauma.
Having developed her skills to overcome a long battle with depression and addictions, following Childhood Trauma; plus several long-term physical health problems including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Jane has gone on to establish a successful business supporting others to release DIS-EASE from their MIND, BODY and SPIRIT.
Following a 15-year career in Mental Health, where Jane was involved in setting up and establishing several ground breaking service user led mental health projects in the community, she then went on to develop her on practice and write her first book, Monsters Under My Bed: Recovering From Childhood Trauma.
Hello, my name is Demelza and I’m a volunteer for My Black Dog. In 2016 I reached breaking point on my mental health which had in hindsight been building up for several years. The dam broke and I experienced a major depressive episode, suicidal thoughts and was offered voluntary sectioning. After a few years of therapy, medication and slowly rebuilding my life and health I was diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as an underlying condition. Today I am happy, healthy and managing my condition well. I have a really fun and full life whilst also having found a new found empathy for and understanding of the struggles that we all face at some point in our lives. Although the more “formal” therapies undoubtedly helped me get to where I am today as part of the overall mix, I can also unequivocally say that talking to and feeling heard by friends, and also at times complete strangers who just “got” mental health, along the way was a massive contributor to my recovery. Of the many things that mental illness can make you feel, it can make you feel very alone, when actually it is one of the most universal human experiences and there are so many people out there who feel just like you. I joined My Black Dog as a volunteer because I wanted to return the gift that other people had given me, of just listening, not judging and supporting me in my recovery.
I have struggled with anxiety since my teens. The overbearing sense of worry and fear, like something bad is going to happen. My heart would start to race and my breathing would become rapid. My anxiety has and always be a burden, but I am beginning to control it. Sometimes it comes out of nowhere and can really affect social situations. At the age of 19, I also had my first experience of depression. To begin with, it was intermittent and I thought I could deal with it alone until it took a hold of me and wouldn't let me go. I was easily irritated and would isolate in my room and find solace in the feeling of emptiness that ate me from the inside. Depression was my only companion and it felt like it would last for an eternity. I broke my silence when I spoke to a counsellor at university and it felt so good to talk about my feelings and the thoughts of wanting to go to sleep and never waking up. That moment marked the first step in my recovery. After speaking to my GP and talking to a therapist I began to cut the ties with my black dog. Sometimes it pops back up and visits me, especially during the Coronavirus lockdown, but now I have the tools and the people around me to drag myself out of the darkness when I feel myself slipping.
Volunteering for MBD:
My whole journey with My Black Dog has been outstanding. I began in January and was one of the first volunteers to join the team and I don't plan on leaving anytime soon! Aside from the wholesome feeling of helping others, the experience has also helped me too. It reminds me that I am NEVER alone when it comes to mental health and the people who we speak to inspire us to continue volunteering. For most of the people we speak to, we may be the first person they have spoken to about their mental health and we all know how hard that first step is and their strength is inspiring. The team is absolutely fantastic too. Niki is so supportive and understanding of all of us and is always checking in on how we are doing and it's amazing to have that support. The volunteers are great too. I think of us as a community as we talk to each other both during and outside of operating hours. Our experience of mental illness creates a bond between us and we can rely on each other when times are tough. If you are thinking of volunteering with My Black Dog, I couldn't recommend it enough!
Hi, my name is Richard and I'm a volunteer for My Black Dog. About 4 years ago after two major personal incidents, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and went through some dark times and went to some very dark places. After trials with multiple medications and face to face counselling, I found help with online chat therapy which was amazing for someone who isn't brilliant in social situations. I now manage my conditions with a combination of exercise, mediation and journaling which all work great for me. For the majority of my adult life I looked at people with mental health issues with a judgemental eye. It wasn't until I had mental health issues of my own that I was able to understand and empathise. I believe greatly that connecting with people who have been through similar experiences to yourself is of huge benefit. This is my main reason for joining My Black Dog.
Hi, my name is Mark and I’m a volunteer for My Black Dog. I’ve had issues with my mental health nearly all my adult life, but was only diagnosed a couple of years back. Since then I have been on a journey to understand what started these issues, and more importantly how I can help others who are struggling. In this time I have been reunited with my birth mum, and this has felt like the final piece of the jigsaw that makes me who I am, it's been an emotional voyage but one that I am glad I took. I have been volunteering for My Black Dog for the past few months, and it is the most rewarding and grounding thing I have ever done. It feels like it's the role I was meant to do all these years, and I feel finally like I am making a difference to people's lives.
At the age of 17 I started to suffer from depression. I spent a large chunk of the end of my teenage years in bed alone not wanting to live this life anymore. I felt empty and numb like I wasn’t even alive. I stopped doing things, I isolated myself from everyone and went to a place I never want to go back to. I also dealt with a lot of social anxiety, body dysmorphia and self-harm. After having my mum repeatedly beg me to get help, I finally decided to see a therapist and eventually went on medication to get me to a point where I was able to help myself. I began to build up healthier coping mechanisms and started to relearn to love myself. Four years later and I'm able to go out and socialise, travel, make plans for my future and most importantly I’m kind to myself. I still have days when I’m scared I’m back at 17 but I hold on to hope and love and take things one step at a time. If I didn’t reach out for help when I did I don’t know what would have happened.
My Black Dog is a beautiful platform encouraging people to talk. Through volunteering, it has enabled me to support those that are in a similar position of struggling. After my first chat with a service user I knew this was what I was meant to be doing. Being able to listen to someone and having them open up to you is one thing, but then being told that you have given them hope is something even more incredible. Being in such dark times myself to then being able to do this is something I’m most proud of. I am so thankful for organisations like My Black Dog and amazing people like Niki for supporting people who feel like they can’t speak to anyone else. We all need each other whether we know it or not. Life is so fragile and yet so beautiful. If you’re in a position in which you can use your own experiences to help others, I couldn’t recommend it enough. It’s a beautiful thing to have the opportunity and to be healthy enough to do this.