Here are just a few of the testimonials we have received from health bodies, charities, pharmacists and members of the public who have benefitted from our workshops

Sarah Taylor-Robinson, Practice Facilitator, Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust

I would like to thank you for bringing your amazing workshop and resources to Worcestershire. We really appreciate the time you gave us not only in the sessions but all the travelling that was involved.

All seven of the group benefited personally from the sessions as well as going away knowing that the resources and tools will be invaluable to the service users they support in their roles within mental health services.

There is no doubt that most people would benefit from the anxiety and depression workshop and it will certainly enable people and their families to feel more in control of the conditions.

Co-production is an initiative in this Trust, empowering and enabling people who access our services is core to changing the way we work. Your training potentially will be invaluable in assisting us to make this transition from one of doing to people to one of working in true partnership.

Joy, Mental Health Team Leader, Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust

Choices Anxiety and Depression training, although apparently simplistic, contains brilliant straightforward ideas to change people’s lives. Although I am only just starting to use the materials with patients within the Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, the patients’ response is very positive to the four tools, board games and other content, they feel they’ve learnt something useful to them, and I will continue to use it with much benefit in the future.

I found the training interesting and thought provoking and the anecdotal evidence provided by the trainers on how it has changed people’s lives inspiring. I wait to learn what difference it will make to my family.

Alex, Community Reablement Assistant, Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust

I attended the ‘UK Choices’ Anxiety & Depression Course and found it to be interesting and thought provoking. I joined the course as a professional so worked through the information in a slightly different way than learners usually do. I feel the course could be very useful to people who may be struggling with the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

From the onset, we as learners were reminded of our responsibility in the learning process. I found this to be motivating and felt that it was a useful reminder. The training was informative and I imagine most people could be reminded of and would learn new information through attending. I felt that the construction of the learning materials were well designed and compliment the teaching of the course. The course was structured in a repetitive way so the techniques we learned we embedded into the outcome each session.

The four techniques that we were taught were useful, cost free and transferrable and I felt that having a few resources that can easily be applied would be very helpful to support a person in their daily lives. I am not experiencing the symptoms of anxiety or depression so I didn’t feel I had the same frequency of opportunity to practice every technique as a service user would; nevertheless I did complete the homework each week and found that writing the affirmations and reviewing the sessions were a very helpful aid in terms of cementing the learned work.

Much of each session was very interactive and I think this in itself is a valuable part of the recovery process. The way the course enables learners to form their own support and friendship networks are a very useful outcome.
Overall I value the experience I had learning on the course. I feel that the course offers an individual a useful set of techniques which they can use to support their recovery.

Mark, Mental Health Team Leader, Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust

The course was very good from the way it was delivered to the information given to us. The techniques are easy to use and the boards have a way of making you think of things in a different way. I am looking to use this on the ward with as many people as I can.

Susan Court, Project Manager, Marie Curie Wales Caring for Carers Project

3Working with the Choices Education team, we were able to identify the real benefit of using the ‘I care… do you?’ game to raise awareness about the challenges facing young carers with young people in schools.

Our project has allowed us to provide the games free of charge to schools in Wales  and to date we have been able to raise the awareness of over 120 young people drawn from Year 8 and Year 9 in schools in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen working in both the English and Welsh medium.

Andrea, Training & Development Facilitator Mental Health Matters, Wales.

4I am writing this testimonial in support of the work that Choices are doing and the positive impact it is having on people’s lives.

I have worked in Mental Health Services in various roles for the last 10 years and currently I am the Training Development Facilitator for Mental Health Matters Wales.

My Colleague and I Kim Roberts from MHM Wales met with Choices for a taster session to introduce their training. After observing this session and from taking part in activities offered, I have to say that I am very enthusiastic about delivering the workshops myself and very keen to tell everyone about the experience.

From the outset of the session people were fully engaged and included. It became quickly apparent to me that Choices offers people autonomy over their own learning and experiences.

With the use of infographic boards and activity packs, all learning styles are considered. This course is extremely clever in its design, where people are put at ease from the start and it is very confidence building.

I would describe this course as assisting people from all walks of life with the ability to learn how to think and not what they have been told what to think. I really believe that these workshops and sessions can help people experiencing mental health conditions gain the tools necessary to make their own decisions and develop coping mechanisms to help them in their everyday life.

I would strongly advocate that all working in mental health services become aware of this course and tell people of the benefits.

Stuart - MR PharmS - Caerphilly

I am writing in support of the work that Jocelyn Duncan and Dennis Laity are doing. I have known Jocelyn and Dennis for almost 5 years as their community pharmacist and have followed the development of their programme and products with interest. As a community pharmacist I come into contact with people with a number of illnesses on a daily basis and it is my belief that mental health is a very challenging area of medicine that is both poorly understood and poorly represented. Although medicine undoubtedly have a place in the treatment of mental illness they are not perfect and many people find that either medication is not adequate or comes with side effects that are almost as detrimental to a patient’s quality of life.

After a kind invitation from Jocelyn and Dennis I attended one of the workshops (the last one in a series of three on depression after an initial workshop) that they are providing in the Caerphilly area, to see exactly what it was all about and how everything worked with real people. I spoke to a couple of these people to find out exactly what they thought of the course and the support that was offered. The people I spoke to told me about the difference they had seen in themselves following attending the workshops and what they thought of the course. Both of them said that what they had learned had allowed them to do things that they could never have dreamed of before, even following years of medical treatment. I asked what they thought the best parts were and they both replied that it was great to meet other people with the condition that they had and they found the empathy that Jocelyn and Dennis could show them was a huge benefit to their self esteem. They also explained that the boards that were provided during and after the workshops meant that they had a point of reference that they could work with and also a format when discussing the information with loved ones at home.

I then sat in on the workshop and observed what it entailed. The workshop ran informally and the people I sat next to appeared to not have spoken to each other much in the past, however after a few minutes they were openly discussing their feelings and their condition and where they thought they were in response to a board that they were given that prompted different discussion points and opened a dialogue between them. Most of the people at the workshop seemed to truly find the information they were given helpful and it was delivered in a way that was accessible to them.

I truly believe that the workshops and learning system that Jocelyn and Dennis are running has potential to help a great number of people with mental health issues as they are produced by people who have learned from their own experiences what works to help control a condition and also through constant development following feedback and self appraisal.

I would like to support the work that Jocelyn and Dennis are doing as I feel that it will be of benefit to a great number of people. The support that they are already offering to people is fantastic to see and I would truly like to see it rolled out to more people.

Powerful testimonials from course participants over the last 5 years…

Paul, Tanya and Lorraine

Dear CHAT

I would like to give my thoughts on the Anxiety & Depression course which are as follows.

I have really enjoyed the course and the information you have provided to me has proven to be invaluable to both myself and also to my wife and parts of my wider family who I have now felt confident enough to tell that I am suffering with anxiety, the reasons for it and also the tools I am using to cope with it. After attending I have a greater appreciation for the symptoms / effects and signs of depression / anxiety and what it means and also how it can affect people.

 

I am fortunate that I found the group after my wife saw a post on the awesome Cardiff Face book page and exchanged emails and a call with CHAT that same day which was roughly a week before the course commenced.

I consider myself fortunate that I have only accepted I have anxiety in the past few months and was able to get help so early on to where as some people have and can suffer for many years without any routes for support.

 

In my view this course should be rolled out by the wider health boards across the UK. The content is broken down and explained in simple terms, interactive with the board games and also not filled with outdated jargon. The 3 hour sessions feel about right and I have looked forward to them each week.

Thank you again for running the programme.

Regards

Paul  Cardiff

20.07.2016

 

I initially went on this course in order to train to be a trainer as I work with vulnerable clients who suffer a lot with anxiety and depression and having suffered with this many years ago and knowing the impact it can have on someone’s life I felt this was something I could do to assist them. Having been on this course it made me realise that I actually still suffered with a degree of depression which I was masking and had never really dealt with. The boards were brilliant and I have used these at home in order to initiate conversations with my family. The boards are easy to use and give a lot of information in a very simple way that everyone can understand. The four coping tools have really helped me to minimise my negative thoughts and it has had a positive impact on my way of thinking. I have used these tools in lots of different ways with my clients already in order to help them minimise their stress levels in all sorts of different areas as they are very versatile. I am hoping to continue on with this training in order to be able to deliver this course in the future.

Tanya Pontypool

24.07.16

 

I attended this course with reservation! Having suffered with depression & Anxiety on and off for most of my life starting in childhood, I wasn’t sure what to expect and did wonder, will this benefit me? Well it certainly has, it has always been difficult for people to openly talk about these issues due to the fact that in general people know very little about the conditions if they have suffered with them or not! The initial statement that impacted on me was in the very first session, it was stated that Depression & Anxiety are “normal human traits” this for me was the first time that I realised in my life that it isn’t that there is something wrong with me, it is a condition that I suffer with, Hearing that statement somehow set me free from feeling “abnormal” it was liberating, I felt that something had been lifted from me! I have spoken to GP’s, counsellors and other professionals but had not heard any such statement! Which would have been very beneficial to hear earlier in life, making the life journey easier to navigate and can completely understand why so many sufferers feel isolated and let down by Mental Health so called experts!

The course for me is delivered in a beautifully simple way, easy to understand no huge technical terms which may intimidate – discussion about causes – coping strategies – how the brain works – Conscious and Unconscious mind, this I feel was really helpful in understanding the triggers for my anxiety and depression! And how we can train our mind to change for the better! I have used some of the tools that the course teaches and have found that I have benefited in a positive way – by me taking charge of the condition and not the other way around.

In all I really enjoyed the course, felt I was in a safe environment, people were at ease and able to discuss the course content which helped each individual in the way that was appropriate to them – the use of the boards and cards was great for opening up discussion around the conditions allowing people to voice their understanding and learning from others!

All in all it was a positive experience with people who want to take control of their condition and the course in my eyes certainly gives the tools to enable this to happen.

I have found myself using the tools on a daily basis! Which for me – says it works and has impacted in a positive way! I am sure that the course will help many others enabling them to take charge and if not beat, control their condition!

Lorraine

Caerphilly

Andrea

I signed up to the CHAT anxiety and depression course with the aim to better understand what causes anxiety and learn coping tools for the condition. I believed the material supplied during the course would be useful to explain to others what anxiety and depression is all about.

Before I started the course I had feelings of guilt for making life difficult for my family. I very quickly learnt anxiety is something everybody experiences to one degree or another. Its how you deal with it that matters. Previously, through no fault of my own my anxiety got out of control. Now I understand what causes anxiety I’m able to control my negative thoughts. The coping tools I learnt on this course reinforced my positive thinking.

I found the course was delivered in relaxed, supportive manner and I was never made to feel I had to talk about any of my difficult experiences. However, the course was interactive and during the workshops I found it beneficial discussing the content on the boards with others who had experienced anxiety and depression.

During the first session it was explained to us what anxiety is and what causes depression.

In the second session we worked through the conscious and unconscious mind which revealed some very useful facts. This really helped me get to grips with some of the negative thoughts I’d experienced.

The final session covered triggers and warning signs. This awareness can help you prepare for difficult situations preventing anxiety creeping back.

Since completing the course I generally feel more relaxed with everything. The coping tools help me maintain a positive outlook which means I’m happier and so are the people around me!

The course would be a huge benefit to a range of people and it would be ideal if it could be offered by local health boards to patients identified with anxiety. It could help many onto their journey of recovery in a short time.

Andrea

Sarah

I initially was drawn to this course as an intervention that could help my brother and also service users I support.  I have explored many avenues of belief and practice to do with mind work and have in time found the tools I personally have needed to manage and develop mo own wellbeing.

I identified quite quickly the value that this course had and also the realisation that if I had found this many years ago, it would‘ve made made a huge difference to me.  Even so, with all that I have learnt so far, I still recognised that I have areas to keep a check on and that is as a direct result of attending this course.  The content is appropriate, easily digested and is delivered with conviction.

The environment feels safe, which is paramount to allow people to expose aspects to their personality that they otherwise hide.  My hope is that in time I can use the material to support others. The material is appealing and user friendly, I especially was blown away by scientific and information discussed.  This kind of information delivered and understood by people would alleviate the need for people to struggle with aspects of their mental health.  I could see areas of the health service improve economically by reducing the need for drugs if this course was utilised. I hope to see this happen soon.

After doing a piece of homework on affirmations the power of this exercise resonated with me when attending a promotional interview, I felt calm, confident and composed, I feel this was as a direct result of practicing this activity.

Powerful Stuff!!

Sarah

Debbie - Machen

Like many people I was embarrassed to admit that I suffered from anxiety so it was with some trepidation that I booked a place on the CHAT course in October 2014.

I need not have worried, the CHAT team put me at ease and it soon became apparent that I was in a room with people who understood how I felt – because they felt the same.

Over the 3 weeks not only did I learn techniques that I can use to help my condition but I also learned a lot about myself.

I heartily recommend the CHAT courses – be brave, book a place now, you won’t regret it.

Joan - Llantrisant

This course dramatically improved the atmosphere in the home as all my family now appreciate my condition and work with me to manage it better. The folder of information I took away from the course not only helped me but enabled my family to get accurate information.  This in turn helped them to help me.

Graham - Caerphilly

I would recommend the CHAT workshops to anyone suffering with depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder because these meetings help massively in achieving an understanding of these mental health issues & importantly also provide the tools with which to combat them.

All of this is done in a warm, friendly & supportive atmosphere where group members can share experiences & feelings in an empathic & positive way.

Emily - Caerphilly

My life has changed as a result of attending CHAT as it has improved my confidence and understanding of my condition and it has made me recognise that I am not alone.

Before I started, I had no hope of getting better. I will use the tools I have learned now and in the future.

Emma - Cardiff

I found C.H.A.T online in the middle of the night while looking for some help after recently being diagnosed with depression, I was feeling so alone.

On the morning before the first workshop I was terrified but a little while after I got there and conversations started and people were opening up about their own experiences I realised I wasn’t alone and the anxiety could be overcome – what a revelation!

I’ve learned tools to help cope with depression and anxiety day to day and I’m actually in control. The very nature of these workshops is relaxed and open and the material given to take home is awesome for sharing with family and friends to help them understand your condition.

I’ve told everyone who will listen about how great these workshops have been for my life and my family have noticed a real difference in me already. I do plan to go back to reaffirm and see what else I can learn on the next one.

If you do one thing for yourself let it be this course, I can’t express the joy and relief that I’m not controlled by my illness any more.

Thank you

Stuart, Caerphilly

Although the course is designed as a self help group, without the structured approach by CHAT it wouldn’t make sense.

I have been on two courses so far, I couldn’t make all the sessions on the first course and missed vital aspects.

However having been to the second it began to fall into place and the more sessions I attend will help with my confidence. I am a better person for attending the courses. I haven’t been to the Laughter Club yet but intend to go soon.

Maria - Blackwood

Before attending the CHAT workshop I was slightly apprehensive. I had attended some CBT sessions which were not that beneficial to me so I was concerned if CHAT would be the same.

I found the workshop very comforting being around fellow suffers and exchanging stories of each others’ battles & experiences with anxiety/depression. It also helped that those conducting the course knew exactly how each of us were feeling being fellow suffers themselves.

The course has provided me with a better understanding of the condition and given some useful coping tools to help me cope with my condition.

A very worthwhile experience.

Stacey & Jackie

From the moment I read the CHAT advert for their self help workshops for people with anxiety, depression and bipolar and to inform the family members on the conditions, CHAT changed my life! My mum was diagnosed roughly 7 years ago with the condition; bipolar.

Life for me living with mum was unimaginable. I felt alone, that I was the only person with a family member who had the condition, I felt that (as upsetting as this is for me to admit) I’d lost my mother, my best friend. I’d never had any information given to me to understand what mum’s condition was or new how to help her or been sat down and talked to about it and how to live with it, and literally felt like I had lost my mum to the condition, even to the point where I used to try to remember how mum was before she got given tons of medication to take.

It was hard and no matter how many attemps I made to try and figure it out, I promise from the bottom of my heart, nothing compares to the warmest and friendliest welcome, the set out of the workshops and the information and coping methods for both the person with the condition and the family members to understand and to live with, and the love and hope CHAT has given to my mother, myself and my family.

I cannot thank CHAT and all the group enough for their support and help, their honesty and trust, without them, I would not be where I am today…a proud daughter of a mother who is coping and living with bipolar!

All my love to those who know us, and to those who might be reading this who might be debating to take their first step to coming along to CHAT’s workshops – I really hope we get to meet you one day!