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“Life changing” therapy offers Rochdale man a brighter future

My therapist Charlotte was brilliant. She really helped me put things into perspective and has given me tools to approach life in a different way.

Nigel Ali from Rochdale (pictured) asked his GP for help after a period of work stress and worry about his mum following an accident began to take a toll on his mental health.

He felt frustrated, low, and unable to cope, which led to him needing to take time off from his job as an exercise co-ordinator. This was the crunch point, as his previous work record was exemplary.

Acting on his GP’s advice, Nigel contacted NHS Heywood, Middleton, and Rochdale Talking Therapies, run by The Big Life group in partnership with Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.

The service provides a range of therapies for people aged 16+ experiencing common mental health difficulties such as depression and anxiety, including panic, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Other issues such as stress, lower mood and poor sleep can also be treated.

After a short wait, Nigel was assessed by a practitioner, and they agreed cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) could be helpful. This is a talking therapy that can help people take control by changing how they think and behave.

There’s clear evidence to support the effectiveness of CBT and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) hails it as the gold standard for treating anxiety and depression. In the Rochdale borough, the average recovery rate in 2023 was 54% which is above the national target of 50%.

Nigel said: “In 20 years I’ve only had four days sickness, so the decision to be off work wasn’t easy. Dealing with work stress and caring for my mum who was unwell following an accident felt too much and I needed help.

“I expected to be offered counselling, so was surprised when they suggested cognitive behaviour therapy. I didn’t know much about it but tried to be open-minded.

“My therapist Charlotte was brilliant. She really helped me put things into perspective and has given me tools to approach life in a different way.  I feel empowered and able to be more assertive if issues crop up in the future.

“After having six months off work, I felt able to go back in November. I’m using some annual leave to allow a phased return and my employer is putting some positive changes in place. I’m grateful to Charlotte for guiding me towards a brighter future.”

Cognitive behavioural therapist Charlotte McKeating-Jones supported Nigel through his treatment. She said: “Nigel was a pleasure to work with and I was so pleased to see his symptoms reducing steadily throughout treatment. He was committed and worked very hard between sessions, completing the tasks set for him each week. This greatly improved his chances of success, especially as it was his first time in therapy.

“I’m really proud of Nigel and impressed by the courage he showed in facing his fears. I could see his awareness and self-confidence growing as he made some big life decisions in a positive way.

“I believe that CBT can be truly life changing and would encourage anyone experiencing problems with how they think and feel to get in touch.”

The easiest way to get help is to self-refer by phoning 01706 619 020 or you can click here to complete the online referral form.

Some types of therapy can be started almost immediately, but there may be a bit of a wait for other types. The team will discuss the best approach for each person as part of their initial assessment.