Struggles with mental health fails to stop Katie from working towards her dream

Katie Davis, of Norwich, one of the EDP's Mental Health Heroes.

Katie Davis, of Norwich, one of the EDP's Mental Health Heroes. - Credit: Keith Whitmore

She has had anorexia, anxiety, and depression, but now 22-year old Katie Davis is determined to help others with mental health problems.

Where many people feel ashamed to talk about themselves Katie, of Norwich, has no such qualms as she seeks to normalise the conditions she suffered from, and encourage others to talk more openly about their mental health illness.

For that reason the EDP believes Katie is a Mental Health Hero, as we echo her calls for more openness and awareness of mental health.

One of her key beliefs is that schools must teach more about mental health to educate young people about conditions which are becoming increasingly common among the younger generation.

'I can't understand why we can't get more information about mental health in schools,' she said.


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'No one teaches you what depression is, or what the symptoms are, so I didn't know how to explain how I was feeling.'

It is estimated 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression, with 850,000 suffering from a mental disorder, according to youth mental health charity Young Minds.

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Katie's experience of poor mental health began when she was just 13 when she struggled with tension headaches and insomnia.

It led her to start self-harming which she said was 'addictive'.

'I thought there was something physically wrong with me,' she said.

'Self-harming made me feel like I was doing something about feeling bad so I did it to try to cope with my emotions.'

According to Young Minds there has been a big increase in the amount of young people admitted to hospital because of self-harm, with numbers rising by 68pc in the last 10 years.

'At school I wouldn't eat anything and I'd only have half a portion of dinner at home,' Katie said.

'By the time I was 16 I was a size 4-6 and could fit into clothes for children aged 10 to 11.'

It was then that Katie went to see her GP.

'I did a test for depression and at that point it was practically the first test I passed,' she said.

She was referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust where she was diagnosed with anorexia, depression, and anxiety.

But her problems weren't over despite getting treatment as she developed psychosis, a condition where a person's thoughts and emotions become lost with reality.

'I could feel my head buzzing and I'd be thinking people were after me,' she explained. 'I would be shaking even if I didn't mean to be.'

Six years on from being referred to the trust for treatment Katie knows she is still a recovering patient.

But she has set her sights on helping others who may find themselves in a similar position and is therefore targeting a career in mental health.

She now works as an apprentice with the trust and helps deliver courses to staff and service-users.

Her job is to promote information about mental health, something she believes needs to be done to people the earlier the better.

She is also a member of the trust's youth council, and was part of their team which travelled to Canada last month to take part in the International Youth Mental Health Conference.

'Our aim is to raise awareness of the stigma,' she said.

'Just treat people with mental health problems like you would want to be treated.'

Do you know someone who could be a Mental Health Hero? Email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk

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