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Mental Health Awareness Week: “Counselling saved my life”

Peter, one of the people who use RNIB’s Sight Loss Counselling service, is sharing his story about how it helped him face the future this Mental Health Awareness Week (13 to 19 May).

Peter and his dog on a bench in the gardens of the estate he worked and in which he had his accident.

Now aged 55, Peter discovered that he had very little useful vision in his left eye, when a traumatic accident at work left him without vision in his right, leaving him severely sight impaired. He found it difficult to reach out to friends and family which caused him to experience severe depression.

Peter’s experience shows the impact sight loss can have on your mental health. In RNIB’s report, Key Statistics about Sight Loss, we found that: “people with sight loss were more than twice as likely to have experienced difficulties with unhappiness or depression than the UK average”.

Early on in his journey, Peter spoke of how he often hid the extent to which he was struggling to cope.

"When people see me, they often say: “You're managing so well, Pete” but inside I'm torn to pieces. I think it’s male pride; that stupid barrier that you put up. It can be very difficult to open up to loved ones, because they know you so well, especially the person that you were before.”

Peter credits RNIB’s counselling service and one of our counsellors, Elizabeth, with saving his life, by helping him to open up about what he was experiencing and learn tools to cope.

“For me, counselling made a tremendous impact. I applied to RNIB’s Sight Loss Counselling service and started receiving counselling from Elizabeth. Without any doubt at all, she saved my life. Elizabeth was amazing and has been throughout the whole process. She was extremely understanding, empathetic and caring, and was an inspiration to me. Speaking as a man, I just really wish that other men would swallow their pride and go: “Actually I do need help.” It's so worthwhile.”

Peter wants people with similar experiences to hear about how he was helped.

“My story is a sensitive one, but without any doubt at all, I want to share it. To point other people in the direction of RNIB and the work they do for others. It's almost like it’s a well-kept secret here in the UK, where, until you need the services, you don't know exactly what RNIB does, or what it can do for people.”

If you, or someone you know is struggling to cope with sight loss, get in touch with us via the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or by saying “Alexa, call RNIB Helpline” on Alexa-enabled devices.

And for more information on the help available, you can visit our page, Mental wellbeing resources.