Man’s mental health struggle inspired him to start a new support group in Lowestoft

Robbie Dunchow has started running a mental health support group at the Involve centre, Lowestoft.PH

Robbie Dunchow has started running a mental health support group at the Involve centre, Lowestoft.PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

A new mental health group set up so sufferers can support other sufferers has proved popular, after more people than expected turned up to its first meeting.

Robbie Dunchow has started running a mental health support group at the Involve centre, Lowestoft.PH

Robbie Dunchow has started running a mental health support group at the Involve centre, Lowestoft.PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

BetterTogether was started by 27-year-old Robbie Dunchow when he set up as a Facebook group where people could talk to others in similar positions.

'After conducting some research within the community I found it apparent that there is a severe lack of awareness and a lot of stigma surrounding mental health, its issues and its sufferers,' Mr Dunchow, a ground worker, said.

'It seems that the level of care is often looked at as very poor, and I would like to try and get to the bottom of this. I took this all on board and I started a Facebook group and so far I have nearly 300 members, slowly rising everyday, and have secured a venue in Pakefield with a very nice charity who are allowing me to host our weekly meetings there.'

At the first meeting around 30 people turned up, far more than the 10 Mr Dunchow expected.

Now, he hopes the group can grow to help even more people.

'I've suffered with manic depression and later-diagnosed bipolar for around 11 years, and since the tragic passing of my father when I was 18 things quickly spiralled way out of control and set me on a path of self destruction for more than a decade,' he said.

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'During that time, to say life has been up and down is an extreme understatement. However over time I have learnt how to deal with certain emotions and certain states of mind, and although I still struggle, I have finally decided to use my experiences to try and help others in a similar position that may not know how to move forward. I'm a firm believer that we can help ourselves, if we try, without the need of seemingly pointless doctors and hospital visits.

'In my head, I am here to help people find their voice. I may not have all the answers, or indeed any that they are looking for but even if I can help to point them in the right direction I will feel successful.'

Mr Dunchow, who lives in Kesingland with his wife Alice, said the group's initial purpose is to set up local meetings for people and provide a safe haven.

He added: 'My vision is to hopefully begin workshops and classes in schools and colleges, to spread awareness and offer much needed support to the younger generation, to try and put a stop to suffering in silence.'

• To find out more, join the BetterTogether group at www.facebook.com/groups/1200030380067997/

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