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Sean Munnelly volunteers at St Mary's Springboard cafe
Sean Munnelly volunteers at St Mary's Springboard cafe

From suicide to speaking out: mental health support in Sheffield

18 January 2017

“It’s only by chance that I didn’t kill myself. I’d written letters to my family and friends and went out into the woods with some rope. A little old man saw me and stopped me and that’s why I’m still here. Looking back I’m still shocked about how bad I was.”

Sean Munnelly, aged 40 from Burngreave, is happy to tell his story to other people in the hope that it will encourage others to speak out about mental health. And this January, known as the most depressing month of the year, he’s joining Sheffield City Council to encourage people to visit a Springboard Café.

The council funds three Springboard Cafes which run in the city centre, Manor and Parson Cross. They’re free sessions which give people who are feeling low or isolated the chance to speak confidentially to others, make new friends and hear about positive steps they can take to feel better.

Sean added: “When I first went to a café I’d never spoken to anyone about how I felt, not even after I’d tried to kill myself. I just thought I needed to ‘man up’ and get on with things, and I lived like this for years. But I can’t believe how much better I feel.

“It’s so important to get things off your chest. It really is like halving your problems, even if you’re not solving them. And it’s so common for people to feel low. I used to think people didn’t really care about anyone else and I was the only one feeling like I did. But it’s not true. You’re not alone and there are other people struggling.

“The Springboards are brilliant and people are definitely helped by coming here. We don’t judge and there’s none of the stigma. That’s a very big thing.”

The Springboard cafes are run by Sheffield MIND, Soar and Manor and Castle Development Trust.

Teresa Ravenshaw from Sheffield MIND attends all three and tells people about other mental health services and activities that can help. She said: “If you’ve recognised you have a problem and want it to change, we’re here for you. Even if you’re really stuck and don’t know where to go, just come along.”

More than 570 people have visited the Springboard Cafes since they first started in 2013.

Councillor Cate McDonald, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care at Sheffield City Council, said: “Mental health problems affect all of us and one in four people will experience them at any one time.

“It’s really important that we break the stigma attached to them, and talking to someone can really help.

“Many people who have come to the Springboard Cafes have gone on to other things, where they’re mixing with people and feeling less isolated. That’s why we fund them. They’re very welcoming and have lovely people working there who can really help. I’d urge anyone who feels alone and unhappy to visit as they can make a difference.”

People can drop into a café at any time – no booking or advance notice is needed.

  • The city centre Springboard Café runs every Tuesday from 1pm until 4pm at St Mary’s Community Centre on Bramall Lane.
  • The Manor Springboard Cafe runs every other Monday from 10am until 4pm at Manor Library on Ridgeway Road.
  • The Parson Cross Springboard Café runs every other Friday from 10am until 4pm at The Learning Zone on Wordsworth Avenue.
  • There is also a women’s only Springboard group running in Burgreave..

Visit sheffieldmind.co.uk/services/social-cafes for more information about the Springboard cafes.

Visit http://www.sheffieldmentalhealth.org.ukfor information about other mental health services in Sheffield.