Wigan mum sets up mental health support group to help other families

A Wigan mum started a mental health support group to offer practical help to other parents who are struggling after her own battles with anxiety.

Gemma Heaton, a 38-year-old HD brow technician from Hindley, who lives with her husband Adam, 38, and their two children, Summer, 14, and Ari, 11, started her own mental health community group after developing strategies to help herself cope with her own problems.

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Gemma said: "I really struggled a few years ago and I was in a really bad way, to the point where I remember thinking to myself ‘Adam and the kids would be better off without me’.

Kate Musgrave and Gemma Heaton, who have both overcome mental health struggles and set up a support group, Reset - The Happiness Project, helping families in the Wigan borough and worldwide.

“I remember going to a convention for work and they had all these motivational speakers talking about how they had turned their lives around and gone from the depths of despair.

"I knew there was hope that my life and the way I was feeling could improve.

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"But some of the advice out there, just wasn’t practical for me as a working mum, so I developed my own strategies: self-affirmations, journaling, the way that I spoke to myself and managing my thoughts and mindset.

“I started feeling better and noticed that it had a positive affect on my family. I realised that however I am within myself, reflects on how I am as a mum.”

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Kate Musgrave and Gemma Heaton, who have both overcome mental health struggles and set up a support group, Reset - The Happiness Project, helping families in the Wigan borough and worldwide.

Gemma then developed workshops for both adults and children which she runs in her free time with four other volunteers called, Reset THP Limited. She has also created books for children to use so that they have something to refer to and use for guidance.

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She said: “Our adult workshop is called Reset which is about how to reset your mindset and the workshop for children is to help them develop the tools and coping strategies to use throughout their lives.

"We’ve had funding from the National Lottery and have applied for funding from the council also. This helps us to buy resources such as iPads for families who are struggling and don’t have anything to access us online, it is also used for things such as room hire, and stationary.

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“Because with kids, everything that we do is done through an arts and crafts activity.

“This is so that while we are talking to them, they are focusing on doing something, which helps them to open up.

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“We also go on training courses, but my own personal struggles have been the best training that I have had to help relate to people and have a real understanding.”

Gemma has found that many more people are struggling with financial worries and stress with rising energy bills.

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She added: “We deal with issues such as women and girls who have been raped, parents worried about their children, health worries, and financial worries – which are becoming a lot more common.

“We hold workshops, Zoom calls and we even do a walk and talk – where we go for a walk outdoors while we talk about the issues affecting our lives, but positively structured.

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"People are really supportive of each other which is important for people to know because when you are in it, you can feel like you’re the only one, but you’re not.

"We want people to know that there is hope and everyone has the potential to shine again.”