‘I don’t want pills, I want an alternative’: Royston’s Robbie sets up mental health support group to help others like him

Robbie Lane has set up a mental health support group in Royston

Robbie Lane has set up a mental health support group in Royston - Credit: Archant

About a month ago Robbie Lane went to see his GP after hitting a particularly low point with his depression.

He was offered anti-depressants, but felt this wasn’t enough – he wanted to establish a real alternative to help him cope.

The 28-year-old said: “I spoke to a few people, they agreed with me that we kept getting palmed off.

“It’s not a bad word against GPs, but there needs to be an alternative. Anti-depressants aren’t always the answer, they often mask the problem.”

Robbie set about creating a support group to help people realise they are not alone, forming the Royston Mental Health Support group.

He said: “I have always thought about setting up a group but I have never had the confidence to do it.”

Robbie has a personal reason for wanting to reach out to other people who are suffering.

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He has always had depression and has in the past self-medicated to try to cope with his problems.

When he was 19, things escalated and he had a drug-related mental breakdown that put him in hospital.

He said: “I don’t remember going to hospital much. I remember not being in a great place mentally.

“I was put on anti-psychotic medication. It was like I was in a vegetative state.

“That’s another reason for the group. I don’t want people to go to the doctors and for them to say: ‘You should go to hospital’. It isn’t always the answer. People are scared of going to hospital.”

Tragically, he also knows of three people who recently took their own lives in Royston.

After more than 300 people joined the Facebook group in two days, the first Royston Mental Health Support Group meeting was held on Monday, and future sessions will be held on the same day every week between 7pm and 9pm at The Royal British Legion Club in Mill Road.

It isn’t a counselling service, although there will be counsellors who attend different meetings, and there will be free tea and coffee on offer for all who attend.

Robbie plans to have different speakers come to talk at events, and wants to get a suggestion sheet for people to put forward ideas.

If you are interested in attending, search Royston Mental Health Support Group on Facebook.

Herts County Council is currently running a countywide campaign called Hertfordshire Year of Mental Health.

The aim of the initiative is to raise awareness, increase support and challenge stigma.

To find out more, search for ‘Hertfordshire Year of Mental Health’ on www.hertsdirect.org.