Three Wearside students have joined forces to set up their own counselling service.
The women, who have all overcome their own mental health problems, are aiming to transform the lives of others after completing their degrees together at the University of Sunderland.
To provide counselling at the point of contact for the client and no waiting listsAndrea Bartlett
Andrea Bartlett, Lynsey Curry, and Madeleine Hauxwell have launched One Place Together, a new counselling service, supported by the university’s Enterprise Place, to provide affordable and accessible care.
Mental health problems are beginning to gain greater understanding in wider society, but issues around stigma, cost, and the accessibility of help are still prevalent.
Lynsey, 30, said: “I went to the doctors at the age of 16 and broke down in tears, the first thing I got was a prescription of antidepressants, I felt like a failure.”
She said her experience is not unique and with the region topping suicide rates there is clearly a need for a change of approach in the region.
Andrea, 38, added: “Our vision for One Place Together is for counselling to be accessible to anyone who needs the service, to provide it at an affordable price, and to provide counselling at the point of contact for the client with no waiting list and for as long as the client requires it.
“Mental health is just as important as physical health and help is available in a nonjudgmental, safe environment.”
Counselling in Britain is currently split into high cost private care, costing approximately £60 per hour, and GP care which is free but comes with long waiting lists.
Andrea, Lyndsey and Madeleine, 44, met when they started an introduction to counselling course.
They each went onto complete a foundation degree and then an honours degree at the University of Sunderland, which required them all to undertake a placement alongside their studies.
Madeleine said: “The sad thing is it takes a lot of courage for a person to seek help, and when they do they usually need the help there and then, that is why we want to change things.”
Andrea, Lynsey and Madeleine were delighted to be accepted to become part of the University of Sunderland’s Enterprise Place, which is an environment where students and graduates can get specialist advice and support to turn their business ideas into reality.
Their new premises is now up and running in Shildon and the three women are excited to be taking on their first clients.
For more information about One Place Together, which offers free no obligation consultations, so people can see if counselling is right for them before committing to paid sessions, visit www.oneplacetogether.co.uk of email firstname.lastname@example.org.