A man from Stroud who has been unable to work due to mental health problems is encouraging others to share their views on the NHS Long Term Plan.

41-year-old Ben Keyte has lived with mental health issues for the last 20 years, resulting in him being unable to run his catering and gardening business.

Ben’s mental health journey began in 2001 after university and he says it was mainly stress-related at the time.  He was put on medication and has been through a process of recovery and relapse.  He says he is currently stable and is now moving towards being able to work again.

Ben, who is also a volunteer at Healthwatch Gloucestershire, said: “It’s quite hard for a man to talk about their personal issues and accept they have a problem.  Even now, I still sometimes struggle admitting that I have a mental health issue.  If you can’t admit you have a problem, it is quite difficult to know where to go.

“Up until recently I kept getting dragged back into the doctors and wasn’t getting into a situation where I was recovering and getting off medication.  They throw medication at you and expect you to get better.  There’s not enough psychiatrists out there to help.  The services have improved over the last couple of years for me and this is mainly due to having a better psychiatrist.

“I think I have been very lucky as I found the Independence Trust and the people at Cirencester Memorial have supported me.  The 2gether Mental Health team suggested I took up volunteering at Healthwatch Gloucestershire and that has been a positive experience.

“I would encourage others to share their experiences of mental health services with their local Healthwatch, as the more people who leave feedback the greater chance of change.”

For more details on What Would You Do? visit: www.healthwatchgloucestershire.co.uk/project/nhs-long-term-plan.