• rs13uk

Businessman champions Amman Valley mental health service

AN AMMAN Valley man has opened up about his mental health and how a local support group has helped him pull through dark times and become his own boss.

James from Garnant attends Shadows Depression Support Group - a self-funded mental health group based in the AFC hut, Cwmaman park.

Shadows was set up by Louise Craik in January 2017 and runs on a voluntary basis.

James, who has been going to sessions for the past two years for depression and anxiety has spoken candidly about his mental health.

He said: “Shadows support group is different from other support groups, we all talk about our problems and we get each other because we all suffer, so become each others therapy.”

James, originally from Swansea, said his mental health problems started when he was a teenager.

“I was a bit of a loner when I was younger,” he said. “I would often be in my room listening to rock music. People thought I was going through a phase because I would have really down days and I did things that, thinking back, I should have gone down a different route.

“But one of the great things about Shadows is that they show you that you don’t have to see something you have done in your past as a failure, instead look at it as a part of your life you’re not proud of but then see it has an opportunity to re-evaluate your life.

“So that is why I decided to set up my own business and for my personal mental health it has been fantastic.”

With the support of Shadows James was able to open up Red Star 13, a pop culture merchandise store in Shoppers World, Ammanford.

“In my previous job I wasn’t in the right environment which wasn’t good for my mental state. But now I have a shop in Ammanford that I’m proud of.

“It gives me a purpose to get up in the morning and I can get out and speak to people. Some days I struggle and have to force myself to get up in the morning, but once I’m in work I see it’s not so bad.”

James is now hoping to use the shop as a platform to help tackle the stigma surrounding men’s mental health.

“I’m more honest about my feelings these days,” he said. “As men we often think we can’t look vulnerable, there’s always that ‘man up’ attitude. At Shadows we are never judged and the group sessions has shown me how important it is to talk about your feelings. I’m very open about my mental health and I’m always happy to talk to anyone about it. I encourage anyone who is suffering to not suffer alone.”

Shadows Support Group meet at the AFC Hut, Cwmamman Park every Monday between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

If you, or anyone in your family, is experiencing any mental health issues you can contact Jennifer or Louise who will be on hand to tell you how Shadows can help.

* This article was posted in the South Wales Guardian Newspaper on Wednesday 4th March 2020 and publish on their website on Friday 6th March 2020 (


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