AS people across the UK mark Mental Health Awareness Week, a Helensburgh woman has shared her experience of anxiety and depression.

Lynne McDonough, 39, has struggled with her mental health for more than 20 years, having first been diagnosed at the age of 18.

After experiencing bullying as a child, Lynne found herself anxious in crowds and when meeting new people.

The mum of three was prescribed medication to help, but had to come off it whilst having tests done five years ago.

As a result, Lynne suffered a mental breakdown and spent three years barely leaving home.

Since then, she has gone back on her medication and had intensive cognitive behavioural therapy, as well as reaching out to Burgh-based mental health hub Jean’s Bothy.

Lynne said: “It took me three months to summon up the courage and confidence to go along. The first time was with my community psychiatric nurse, and almost immediately I felt at home.

“I loved the staff and the friendly banter. That was three years ago and I have been coming almost every weekday since that time.

“When the pandemic hit and everything stopped and went online I felt I lost myself and went back a little bit although it was a real comfort to have online sessions and Jean’s Bothy staff checking in on me two or three times a week.

“I knew that there was always someone else at the other end of the phone to help me.”

Lynne is one of many who have been helped by the charity, which offers members opportunities to grow their confidence and meet new people.

This year, it has joined forces with The Journey, the personal training and fitness centre in Colquhoun Square, to introduce a new initiative based around yoga and fitness.

Members have access to the facility in Colquhoun Square twice a week, where they will find a space which emulates the safe environment found at Jean’s Bothy.

Katrina Sayer, development manager, said: “The pandemic meant we had to look at the space we have and make some adjustments.

“One of those was moving the fitness sessions outside and once we received funding from HSCP self-management grant we were able to develop the existing partnership with The Journey.

“Members have seen real benefits from attending twice weekly sessions.”

Member Kathy added: “My mental health is so much better from attending The Journey.

“I went to it with an injury and started very slowly. Using very light weights and now I’m trebling those weights.

“I look forward to planning my week around the fitness sessions and my son is really proud of me for doing it.

“Keeping physically active means I am now eating better, have introduced a routine into my week and I have something to focus on, it’s great!”