On Thursday 23 November, Rethink Mental Illness announced their 2023 Pringle Award winners at their Annual General Meeting (AGM) in London. The annual awards recognise people and groups who have made a real difference to people severely affected by mental illness during the previous year.
Derbyshire Borderline Personality Disorder Support Group won 2023 Group of the Year.
“I started the group because I didn’t want anybody to go through what I did.”
– Sue Wheatcroft
After coming out of a four-year crisis, Sue wished there was a specialised BPD support group she could have been a part of. She’d attended more general mental health groups before but didn’t feel these were focused enough on her diagnosis. She created the Derbyshire Borderline Personality Disorder group in 2017, with wishes that nobody else would have to go through what she went through. Sue believes that her mental health crisis was exacerbated by the lack of support.
By the time Covid-19 came around the group had established four venues, but these had to shut because of the pandemic. Instead, the group went online via Zoom. The use of Zoom enabled the group to hugely expand with over 350 users, 13 of which were overseas. The group develops and progresses organically to meet people’s different needs; for example, the group stayed online but smaller and more local in-person events were set up, such as coffee mornings and activities like bowling (funded by external givers).
The group encourages members to create their own networks and Sue hopes that the group is just the start of smaller networks that develop and grow within themselves. It also offers information about themselves, referral advice, what the statutory services can offer and a quarterly newsletter. This newsletter allows people to contribute and share their own stories, share creative work such as art and poetry, features advice articles and articles about famous people living with BPD, as well as any new information or research. The group also has crisis cards for its users, designed for instances when they may get picked up by the police, paramedics etc, to explain that this individual is in a crisis and is not a criminal. Sue has also set up an Attachment Group which is run via email. Attachment is a huge part of living with BPD so the group offers exercises on dealing with attachment.
As well as this, a key part of the development of the group has been creating WhatsApp groups for specific needs. Six of these WhatsApp groups have now been established:
- General group chat. This has around 100 members.
- Positivity group. Sue understands that with mental illness comes its negative reality. No negative text is allowed in this chat to give people a positive boost for their day.
- Men with BPD.
- Parents with BPD.
- Virtual Walking Group where people send in pictures of their walks, such as canals or woodland, to then encourage people to get out into the fresh air.
- Parent and Carer Group.
To find out more about the Group and the support they offer, visit: https://derbyshireborderlinepersonalitydisordersupportgroup.com/
You can read the latest Borderline Derbyshire newsletter here.
Photo – Sue Wheatcroft (second from right) receiving the award