'I nearly killed myself - but help is available at mental health cafes'

Sean Munnelly is urging people to visit Sheffield's Springboard Cafes.
Sean Munnelly is urging people to visit Sheffield's Springboard Cafes.

A Sheffield man who was moments away from suicide has urged others to talk about mental health at a council-funded cafe.

Sean Munnelly, 40, from Burngreave, says it was 'only by chance' he didn't kill himself as a result of depression.

The cafes offer support and friendship.

The cafes offer support and friendship.

Today he is a regular at the Springboard Cafe at St Mary's Community Centre in Bramall Lane - one of three in the city supported by Sheffield Council.

Sean had decided to speak out about his own experiences in an attempt to encourage more people suffering from mental health problems to visit a cafe and talk to someone.

Looking back on his lowest point, Sean said: "I’d written letters to my family and friends and went out into the woods with some rope.

"A little old man saw me and stopped me and that’s why I’m still here. Looking back I’m still shocked about how bad I was.”

Sean is a regular Springboard Cafe visitor.

Sean is a regular Springboard Cafe visitor.

Depression and isolation had almost led Sean to the brink. But he started to open up about his health when he visited a Springboard Cafe.

The cafes provide free sessions where people can talk confidentially to others, make new friends and hear about positive steps they can take to feel better.

Sean said: “When I first went to a cafe I’d never spoken to anyone about how I felt, not even after I’d tried to kill myself.

"I just thought I needed to ‘man up’ and get on with things, and I lived like this for years. But I can’t believe how much better I feel.

“It’s so important to get things off your chest. It really is like halving your problems, even if you’re not solving them.

"And it’s so common for people to feel low. I used to think people didn’t really care about anyone else and I was the only one feeling like I did. But it’s not true.

"You’re not alone and there are other people struggling."

The council funds three Springboard Cafes - in Bramall Lane, Manor and Parson Cross. They are run by Sheffield Mind, Soar, and Manor and Castle Development Trust.

More than 570 people have visited since they first started in 2013.

“The Springboards are brilliant and people are definitely helped by coming here," said Sean.

"We don’t judge and there’s none of the stigma. That’s a very big thing.”

Teresa Ravenshaw from Sheffield Mind attends all three cafes and talks about other mental health services and activities that can help.

She said: “If you’ve recognised you have a problem and want it to change, we’re here for you. Even if you’re really stuck and don’t know where to go, just come along.”

The council's cabinet member for health and social care Cate McDonald added: “Mental health problems affect all of us and one in four people will experience them at any one time.

“It’s really important that we break the stigma attached to them, and talking to someone can really help.

“Many people who have come to the Springboard Cafes have gone on to other things, where they’re mixing with people and feeling less isolated.

"That’s why we fund them. They’re very welcoming and have lovely people working there who can really help.

"I’d urge anyone who feels alone and unhappy to visit as they can make a difference.”

People can drop into a cafe at any time. The city centre cafe runs every Tuesday from 1pm until 4pm at St Mary's Community Centre in Bramall Lane.

The Manor Springboard Cafe runs every other Monday from 10am until 4pm at Manor Library in Ridgeway Road.

The Parson Cross Springboard Café runs every other Friday from 10am until 4pm at The Learning Zone in Wordsworth Avenue.

There is also a women’s only Springboard group running in Burgreave..

Visit sheffieldmind.co.uk for more information.