Breaking the stigma: Bela’s journey through therapy with Brandon Centre ~ Mental Health Awareness Week

A young girl sitting down with her eyes closed, sitting down with a counsellor
Welcome to Mental Health Awareness Week, a time dedicated to shining a spotlight on and raising awareness about the significance of mental wellbeing. This year’s theme is anxiety, and we’ll be sharing some stories and experiences from young people in Islington who are benefitting from transformative local programmes.

Picture this: the pandemic, a crushing cost-of-living crisis, and devastating cuts to local services. In these challenging times, the need for local projects and services for young people cannot be overstated.

Bela*, a Brandon Centre Young Ambassador, had 20 sessions with an Integrative Psychotherapist at Brandon Centre, a local charity which support young people to get help with personal problems from specialists who are professionally trained. We caught up with Bela to learn more about her transformative journey through therapy, and her advice to young people struggling with their mental health.

What was your experience with Brandon Centre like?

“My experience was really amazing. There wasn’t that long of a waiting list to be seen. I was treated really well by everyone. My therapist was really understanding – the most understanding health care professional I’ve had so far. Everything was really well organized, from getting the appointment reminders to the feedback questionnaire. You can really tell employees care about their jobs when you talk to them, and that they’re very invested in their work. Platform was also a really nice place… to converse with the staff, and being in a youth hub.”

“Life as a young person is incredibly difficult. But there is help out there.” ~ Bela, Brandon Centre Young Ambassador 

What was helpful about therapy?

“What was helpful for me was having someone to open up to without feeling judged. I felt validated all the time. Just being provided with a safe space. I was able to learn tools to deal with emotions and flashbacks, to use these tools in a healthy way to improve life. I’m doing much better now. It was 6 months of constant support. One hour a week looks quite small but it helped, it was incredible. The tools provided me new ways of thinking to help me. I found it all very empowering.”

Illustration: Body & Soul / Xuan Loc Xuan

What advice would you give to other young people who might be struggling with their mental health?

“My advice would be to never give up. Life as a young person is incredibly difficult. But there is help out there. Know you are not alone. Surround yourself with people who you can vent to without being judged, uplifting and positive people. Healing can be incredibly hard, but the outcomes are worth it.”

“Fight through the negative experiences to get the help you deserve.” ~ Bela, Brandon Centre Young Ambassador 

What does mental health awareness mean to you?

“Mental health awareness means a constant effort to get people to open up, to reduce stigma and raise awareness. [It means] Encouraging young people to talk about mental health… Speaking up can change others’ lives. We need to talk about the topics surrounding mental health, getting to the root issue. Encourage people to keep going. A lot of people struggle with getting help in the first place. Fight through the negative experiences to get the help you deserve. I had to go through lots of professionals until I found one that worked for me.”

Thank you to Lita Peña, Assistant Psychologist at Brandon Centre, for her support with this producing this article.
*Name has been changed to protect identity.
Can you help us funds transformative projects and organisations like Brandon Centre and help us make vital mental health support accessible to more young people in our community? Your generosity has the power to make a lasting impact on mental health in Islington.

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