Head injuries and mental illness are often inextricably linked. For some, dealing with a brain injury can not just be physically debilitating but also mentally challenging. This is something that Headway has recognised and they hope to provide the required support for those who may be suffering from a mental illness.
Depression is the most common of mental illnesses to affect those who have suffered from a brain injury. Due to the dramatic physical changes, such as relearning speech or learning to walk again, people can feel lonely and withdrawn due to the isolating nature of such changes.
Simon Glen, project coordinator for Headway believes that the peer support offered by Headway can help people deal with their conditions:
“Headway essentially offers a peer support programme. We aim to help those who suffer head injuries by learning from each other. There is often a great cross over with head injuries and depression and so we aim to get people to help each other.”
Since 2000, Headway has been running as a charity. Not only does it provide a peer support service, the people at headway hope to raise awareness of the problems that occur due to brain injury.
“Victims of brain injury often feel a sense of loss. They may have to start over as they forget their family and friends. Simple things that we take for granted can become foreign and difficult to understand. These significant changes can lead to depression and we aim to highlight the profile of how these people can suffer.”
Headway have been involved in open information days as on the 16th May at the Central Hotel in Glasgow. At such events the people of Headway get the chance to present some of the stories that sufferers have told. Wallace is one particular person to have suffered from a head injury. He had to relearn speech and also needed constant supervision. He felt like “a newborn baby, dependent on those around me and unable to think for myself.”
Wallace was referred to the Head Injury Trust Scotland (HITS) which he attended for 6 months. He was encouraged to attend a cookery course at Cardonald college and with it his mental health and memory improved. Due to the subsequent closure of HITS, the course ended and Wallace was back to “feeling very low and depressed.” He lost all motivation and his confidence crashed.
But after the closure of HITS, Wallace was referred to Headway Glasgow. This gave him the “sense of belonging” as he got to socialise with others who were “all in the same boat.” Wallace now attends the meetings at Headway Glasgow on his own and now does his own shopping. Further to that he is able to pick up his two granddaughters from their school. There is no doubting the impact that Headway has had on Wallace. His mental health has improved no end and his confidence grown.
Lorraine is another to gain confidence and improve her mental health as a result of the services provided by Headway. She suffers from extreme memory problems due to a stroke she had in her 40s. She believes that the peer support service that Headway provides has made her feel “included and accepted.” She can feel relaxed in the company of others who may also suffer.
Headway Glasgow is gradually getting the awareness and publicity it deserves. With much luck and endeavour it is hoped that the problems of brain injuries can be brought to the attention of the public. Depression is already very much stigmatised so with the work of Headway, hopefully we can see the changes in public perception and more importantly raise awareness for those who suffer head injuries.
For those who may suffer from depression as a result of a head injury Headway Glasgow can be contacted in a number of ways. Their main office is at
The Renfield Centre, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4JP
Their telephone number is: 0141 332 8878 and their email is firstname.lastname@example.org
They also have a national website which you can visit at www.headway.org.uk