Mind Health Solutions has been created by Ryan Ridgway and Lara St Romaine after overcoming their own journeys with diagnosed mental health conditions.
MHS aim to empower people to develop skills and understand how to care for themselves and others. Acknowledgement that good mental health is equally as important as good physical health when creating a safe and healthy workplace environment is vital. The course teaches individuals how to support both themselves and colleagues and when to encourage or access further support.
Our commitment to your organisation will not finish at the end of the training, we offer ongoing support through our mailbox and helpline for trained delegates to contact.
By viewing our page it’s great to see you are already considering how to improve the mental wellbeing of your workforce. We would love to help you on your journey.
It’s estimated that up to 50% of people with a mental health issue also have some form of substance misuse problem, so the 2 are often commonly linked
Meet the Team
Ryan Ridgway – Managing Director
When Ryan was young he used to hear voices. They would tell him to complete tasks such as ‘turn the light switch on and off 20 times or your parents will die’ or ‘blink 15 times or you will stop breathing’. This caused Ryan intense emotional and psychological pain and he would spend hours in his room trying to understand what these voices in his head meant and how he could make them stop. One day they were so overwhelming and Ryan just couldn’t pacify them. He had to complete sit ups for 8 hours by way of self punishment which resulted in Ryan having 2 weeks off school sick as he pulled every muscle in his abdomen.
Ryan assumed that he would grow out of this for a short time but as he reached early teens the obsessive behaviour returned and manifested itself in a number of other ways causing depression and psychotic episodes which he hid from everyone around him as best he could. These years were the most difficult and Ryan came extremely close to suicide, something that he planned to the final detail a number of times. Such incidents as being dropped off outside a psychiatric hospital by an ex girlfriend who said she ‘couldn’t deal with him’ and running off to Spain trying to escape the impossible – his own mind. Ryan had to listen to loud music at night in bed just to quieten the voices enough for Ryan to attempt a small amount of sleep.
Ryan’s delusions and obsessive thoughts convinced him that he was going to contract HIV and despite not being in a high risk group he had 9 tests in 12 months. Some of the tests were just because he had cut his hand whilst using a knife but his mind convinced him that if it had been used by someone before him and hadn’t been cleaned properly then he surely would have contracted the virus. Rather than acknowledge this as a mental health concern Ryan was told by a professional that they wouldn’t offer him any further tests, something that made his mental health worse as he had lost all control. Ryan found substance addiction a coping strategy for his unsupported mental health in early years.
Thankfully Ryan found training, boxing and MMA as his therapy leading him to have 2 professional cage fights. Ryan had to learn how to manage his mental health condition through various outlets and support systems. His journey hasn’t been without mistakes but each day be becomes stronger dealing with demons and his diagnosis. With help and support Ryan is now living a life of sobriety.
Ryan is extremely passionate about Mental Health First Aid because had the support this course offers been available to him on his journey it would have been much easier. Ryan didn’t need to develop depression, plan his suicide or be diagnosed with generalised anxiety, Ryan’s conclusive diagnosis that he only received 3 years ago is obsessive compulsive disorder.
There’s no magic pill or one solution but Ryan manages his mental health as best he can day to day as It will always be a part of who he is. Ryan now uses his lived experience to sponsor others who struggle with addiction alongside the mental health support needed with these complex topics.
Lara St Romaine – Managing Director
When Lara was 12 years old her dad, having suffered for many years with depression and alcoholism took his own life. For a long time, the only feelings Lara showed were via rebellious behaviour by smoking, drinking and taking drugs through her teenage years.
By her 20’s Lara began having extreme negative thoughts and feelings. Lara was suffering severe panic attacks on a daily basis. Lara tried numerous ways to combat the situation she found herself in such as, CBT and hypnotherapy, short term Lara felt brighter but nothing had the long-term effect she needed.
On Christmas eve 2011 anxiety took hold of her and she lost the ability to function and complete daily tasks such as eating, washing, sleeping and leaving the house. At this point she felt that her life was over and decided that she was a burden to her friends and family, Lara wanted to die.
At that her lowest point Lara began to accept the help she so desperately needed, due to a fantastic GP, psychiatric nurse, medication and support from friends and family she began her road to recovery.
Life now is not always easy and she still has dips, but Lara understands that life is life and she can deal with the dips and thrive on the good times. Lara has gone on to develop a career supporting people with a long-term mental health diagnosis and is passionate about teaching mental health first aid to as many people as possible, education is the key to change and helping people understand it’s ok to not be ok. Recovery is possible.
Some people are not as lucky. Take the luck out of it and move the odds into the favour of the individual by making mental health first aid compulsory and a part of your organisation.
It’s ok that you’re not where you thought you would be in life right now