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How brave Sarah inspired others with her mental health battle

PUBLISHED: 11:28 17 December 2018 | UPDATED: 11:38 17 December 2018

Sarah Barrett, from Southwold, is a campaigner on mental health issues. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Sarah Barrett, from Southwold, is a campaigner on mental health issues. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

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As part of our series with the East of England Co-Op on community heroes in Suffolk, Andrew Papworth looks at how SARAH BARRETT uses her battle against post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to encourage others to “fight the stigma” of mental ill health.

Sarah Barrett winning the overall prize in the Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards. Picture: NICK BUTCHERSarah Barrett winning the overall prize in the Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Only a few years ago, Sarah Barrett was in hospital fighting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after surviving a violent attack when she was a child.

But today the 21-year-old has not only fought back to build a successful life for herself, but is an inspiration to many with her message on how to fight the stigma of mental ill health.

The youngster, from Southwold, regrettably self-harmed after the incident when she was aged nine - and the subsequent bullying she received when she disclosed what had happened to fellow pupils at school, who refused to believe her.

At the time, she said she “felt like I had nothing to live for” and also began to experience dissociative features, where the body feels as though it is disconnected from the mind.

Sarah Barrett when she organised the Sarah Barrett when she organised the "warrior walk" along Lowestoft seafront. Left to right, Emily Langley, Leanne Gibbs, Chris Dunn, Sarah Barrett, Dawn Barron and Paul Hammond. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Her recovery was not made easier by the fact that when she was hospitalised at her own request, the closest bed available at that time was in Southampton - 206 miles away from her home, her friends and her family.

Yet today Sarah is not only very much in recovery but is one of the region’s leading mental health campaigners, after starting her own campaigning website where she encouraged people to “fight the stigma” of mental health issues.

It led to her to being crowned the overall winner of Archant’s Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards and being given £1,000 grant through Suffolk-based charity GeeWizz, which helps people living with disabilities, to help with her campaigning on the issue.

However not content with stopping there, Sarah bravely spoke out about the dangers of self-harming and organised a “warrior walk” along Lowestoft seafront, to bring together those who have self-harmed with and discourage others from following the same path.

Sarah Barrett and her mother Cath Pickles. Picture: NICK BUTCHERSarah Barrett and her mother Cath Pickles. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

When she first launched her mental health campaign, Sarah said: “I want to raise awareness and give people a voice.

“It’s not a small problem - it’s a big, big, big problem and people are dying because of it.

“However people don’t know enough about it, which is why education is needed. The more that people know about it, the better.”

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