Mental illness survivor beats depression and now provides support to others

BY CALUM FRASER
calum@slpmedia.co.uk 

At 20 Priscilla Casey was homeless and struggling to make ends meet.

The Lewisham girl moved from one shelter to the next and was plagued by
depression.

But she is now free of her past and has relaunched a voluntary group she first thought of when she was 16 called the The Chosen Youth Movement (TCYM).

It provides vulnerable youths with a network of support.

The 22-year-old said: “It was the support of other women and people who had gone through the same thing that got me through this.

“I don’t want any other young person to feel alone like I did. So I started the youth network.

At first it was just through Twitter, then I’d organise meet ups and it’s grown from there.”

Priscilla had lived with her family in Turnham Road, Brockley. But their devout religious views meant she felt she could not open up to them about her mental health difficulties .

She said: “I was in a dark place and couldn’t go to school. My family kept telling me to trust in God. It wasn’t working and then we had an argument and I had to leave.

“I was 19 when I was helped by the CentrePoint homeless charity.

They put me in a scheme called NightStop for about a month where I stayed with different families.

“After this I moved into a youth hostel.”

Priscilla now lives in a flat of her own and is starting a catering business along with running TCYM events.

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She said: “The whole experience drastically humbled me. It brought me to place where I can empathise. That’s what keeps me together.

“I will come across a woman who has been through horrific things, I can hold her hand and say ‘I understand, I went through something similar and I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.’”

TCYM was started when Priscilla was 16 when her problems began.

She will be relaunching it  after she organised a successful night on August 28 of talks by women in the media industry.

Scores of women turned up to hear talks on Female Empowerment.

Priscilla is aiming to grow the network and host more events trying to shed light on issues such as mental health, self esteem and the effects of social media on young people of today.

A report by Green Party Assembly Member Sian Berry has revealed that the average council has slashed its youth budget by 44 per cent since 2011/12.

London’s Lost Youth Services shows that since 2011/12 £1,494,000 has been cut from youth services in Lewisham.

Priscilla said: “It is sad that youth centres across the capital have been closing.
“But I think a lot of councils’ focus has been misplaced. People overestimate how expensive it is.

“Just get us together in a park or church or community centre and we’ll make something work.”

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