"I have been able to forge a life that I not only think is worth living but I am so proud to live it."

These are the words of Jess Holmes who reached out to York Mind in August 2020 after the pandemic left her isolated and unemployed.

To celebrate her own journey to recovery, Jess has spoken out for Mental Health Awareness Week after "the longest time thinking that having depression had broken me".

Explaining life before support, Jess said: "I have struggled with depression and anxiety for a large portion of my life. I’ve spent most of my 20’s in a cycle of GP appointments, medication and therapy sessions in order to try and escape the grasp that depression can have over me.

"When the pandemic hit I found myself unemployed and feeling isolated; my mental health immediately began to deteriorate in response to this."

Jess' mum left her a leaflet by York Mind and she took the brave steps of emailing them about their 'Action Towards Inclusion' programme.

The programme aims to get individuals back into employment with the help of a number of different organisations across York, North Yorkshire and East Riding as part of the national Building Better Opportunities programme. 

Soon after Jess received a phone call where she enrolled and signed up for weekly phone calls.

Jess continued: "Speaking to Pam - my mentor/life coach/biggest supporter - really has changed my life in a way that I never expected.

"It’s not that Pam saved my life; it’s that with her help I have been able to forge a life that I not only think is worth living but I am so proud to live it.

"I spent the longest time thinking that having depression had broken me.

"Speaking with Pam gave me the opportunity to see how tenacious and resilient I had become through my struggles. This new found knowledge gave me a huge sense of empowerment and probably explains why I have decided to run 200 miles for York Mind this month!

"I don’t have superhuman fitness, in fact I’ve only been running for a year but this challenge replicates how I live my life and I wanted people to see that.

"This challenge is about the ability to just keep on going day after day and that's something I know I can do."

Jess has raised £660 so far. 

Anyone who wishes to donate can visit the Just Giving page here.

Action Towards Inclusion offers long-term holistic support to people who are unemployed and experiencing difficulties relating to health, social exclusion, poverty and employability skills.

The scheme helps people overcome these and move closer towards job-search, training, education and employment.

York Mind is currently accepting new referrals into the service. If you feel you might benefit from some support, email ATI@yorkmind.org.uk or call 01904 643364 (option 3)

To find out about all York Mind’s service and how you can get involved visit www.yorkmind.org.uk