Tuesday, 12 February 2019

United Minds Project - Herts student starts his own Mental Health organisation

Aaron Ellis-Montoya, is a final year student in Hertfordshire Law School. After years of reaching out about his personal mental health struggles, he has set up his own mental health organisation to educate and support people of all ages with their own personal battles. 
At the age of 16, I started to have various medical complications which to this date are still something that I live with. These conditions prevented me from doing what I wanted. However, at the time I didn’t suffer from any mental health issues, and I didn’t even know that it was something people could suffer from. Until it hit me. It hit me like a brick wall and since that day I have been fighting an uphill battle. But I am pleased to now say that the ground is levelling, and I am winning. 

I suffer from anxiety, depression and panic attacks, and the combination of these is hard to cope with at times and it wasn’t until I accepted that I needed help that I knew I could win the fight. I meditate, do Ti Chi, talk to others and help people with the same issues.

Prior to attending the University to study law, I was an IT Technician. This career however was not for me and I knew change was required if I wanted to be happy. I tried to sign up for the Royal Marines but was medically discharged due to ongoing health complications. When I finally started studying, it was like a new book - not just a new chapter. It was a fresh start. So I looked for help and went to the GP on campus. At first, it was hard. At first, it seemed impossible. But I soon realised it was possible; I could win, I could fight this, I could be ME again.

So I started this organisation, United Minds Project, in the hope that we can help others who are going through the same battles I went through and to help prevent people from taking their own lives. I know far too many people who have died so young and it is heart-breaking. I do not want people to feel alone and I want to bring communities together. If we can spot the signs early, we can stop it from becoming a habit and prevent the struggle.

United Minds Project Ltd has one main mission: "To be a leading organisation in bringing support and unity for people of all ages that battle forms of mental health by creating a safe and friendly non-judgemental environment." 
The project itself is still undergoing a huge amount of work in order to launch the website and showcase the services that we aim to offer by Monday 11 March 2019. We have 2 other directors on board; 
Roxanne Burnham is our Director of Operations. She is responsible for all thing’s social media, brand building and awareness and the general day to day running of the company.

Apostolos Fournaris is our Director of Clinical Operations. He is responsible for ensuring that we are able to provide certain services and that all of our services and material meet the standards required when dealing with those who are suffering from mental health. 
We also have a couple of amazing volunteers who are really taking our mission to heart and are doing an incredible job. They are, without a doubt, fundamental to helping get us off the ground and without them we would not be able to achieve what we have thus far in terms of preparations. 

After 11 March we aim to help as many people as possible. This will include providing materials such as self-help tip bookmarks and workshops with information surrounding the various mental health illnesses. We do understand though that this will take time. To achieve our mission and make sure that everything we want to do is done correctly, we must take things slowly. Watch this space as there are big plans.

Aaron Ellis-Montoya is a final year student at the University of Hertfordshire studying Law.

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