Mental Health Foundation: Debbie’s inspiring fightback

Please take a few minutes to read Debbie’s story and find out how with your support more single parents, just like Debbie, can get their lives back.

Five years ago the life I had dreamt of fell apart. My relationship broke down shortly after my son Rory was born. Two years later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Feelings of fear and hopelessness swept over me. A single parent with no partner, no family living nearby and no support network. Just my son Rory and me. I won’t lie. It was a very difficult time. The statistics for the mental health of people like me and my son are not good.

Mental Health Foundation: Debbie's inspiring fightback

I was struggling with anxiety and depression. I was fighting cancer. I was literally fighting for my life. My life, our lives, looked and felt bleak. Who was on our side and what was going to happen to my son and me?

That was then, this is now

Today, my life is unrecognisable. A friend introduced me to Rachel Cule, a Facilitator with Creating Connections, a Mental Health Foundation self-management course. This was the beginning of me getting my life back and planning for the future. Since then, I have fought breast cancer and won. I received help for my depression and anxiety. I am stronger and more confident. I now have a supportive network of parents, just like me. More importantly, my son Rory and I are living life to the full.

Creating Connections helped me to turn my life around. It saved me. I was struggling to survive – mentally due to depression, physically due to cancer and financially due to being a single parent on benefits. Now I am thriving. I am returning to nursing now that my prognosis is excellent. I am also working on personal ventures that I hope will help other single parent families, as well as being more involved in my local community. More importantly, due to my involvement with Creating Connections, I understand the importance of looking after mine and my son’s mental health.

Where Debbie lives in Wales, there are over 97,000 single parents, making up one-quarter of all families with children. At the Mental Health Foundation, we know that single parents are more likely to experience poverty, social isolation, stigma and are at a higher risk of developing a mental health problem. Single parents, just like Debbie, are three times more likely to develop depression compared with two parent families. Creating Connections was set up to help single parents take back their lives and plan for a better future.

Creating Connections changes lives

Creating Connections encourages single parents to take control of their lives, to make their own decisions and choices, learn new skills and develop coping strategies as well as provide a supportive network to make plans for the future.

It also focuses on the importance of looking after yourself and your mental wellbeing.

To date, Creating Connections has helped over 1,500 single-parent families change their lives. There have been some amazing achievements: 83% of the single parents I met achieved their primary goals in six months; parents found permanent jobs and have taken up volunteering opportunities, as well as enrolling on education and training courses. You can help change lives with a gift today.