Sipping on a cup of tea, John Willock is chatting candidly about his experiences of mental health challenges, grief and suicidal thoughts – “I didn’t talk about it for years,” he says.
Yet talking has now become a key part of John’s life, and our Good Mood Cafes are where he does a lot of it. “When I first heard about the cafes I thought, ‘Hmm… I might pop along,’ but I decided to give it a go. The first week I came I was really quiet, sussing people out, but it’s great.
“It’s a safe space with good company, where everyone can discuss whatever’s on their mind without fear of judgement. A lot of us share the same sort of mental health issues, so we can all find common ground, but it’s also nice to come and chat about things that are nothing to do with mental health.”
Despite living over 15 miles away from the Good Mood Cafe he attends in Wisbech, John is now a regular. “A few of us actually see each other outside of the cafe, but I love popping along,” he smiles. “Talking is so important. I wish I’d opened up about my issues sooner.”
Such is John’s drive to help others with similar mental health issues, he is also a Campaign Maker as part of the STOP Suicide campaign and is trained in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). “What it means is that I can try to help talk people out of bad situations, like the one I was in.”
John admits that he knows of at least three lives he’s saved. “It’s an amazing feeling to be able to help people reverse that decision,” he says, also acknowledging that his own experiences have enabled him to help spot tell-tale signs that something isn’t right. “The thing is,” he says, “those of us with mental health issues can be very good at hiding things.”
John describes himself as having been in a good place for several years now, and his next ambition is to become a Good Mood Cafe facilitator for CPSL Mind. “It took me years to overcome the stigma of attempting suicide, but now I really want to help people wherever I can.”
Our Good Mood Cafes are open to all regardless of whether you are experiencing a mental health issue or not. If you’d like to come along please visit cpslmind.org.uk/goodlife/
You may also be interested in attending our Open Door calm spaces which provide somewhere to go if you need a bit of space and tranquility.
To find out more about the warning signs of suicide and how to approach a conversation visit stopsuicidepledge.org/