‘I spent a whole day on a hotel roof’ – Knebworth man seeks to help others after battling mental illness

Dan Winterbourne is setting up a charity to help people with mental health problems

Dan Winterbourne is setting up a charity to help people with mental health problems - Credit: Archant

A man who has contemplated killing himself many times because of his battle with mental health problems is setting up a charity to help others facing a similar situation.

Daniel Winterbourne, who lives in Knebworth, has struggled with his mental health since he was 15 years old.

Now aged 43, he is finally winning the battle and is eager to help others do the same.

Dan said: “Doctors have given lots of labels to what’s wrong with me – depression, bipolar, paranoid schizophrenia.

“At my lowest point I was assigned a crisis team, and doctors and nurses came to see me every day for weeks.

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“I did think about taking my own life an awful lot.

“I spent a whole day on top of a hotel roof, contemplating jumping.

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“I have had two or three major breakdowns in my life and I had to reach rock bottom before I could start to get better.”

Dan, who has often been unable to work due to his mental illness, watched his marriage fall apart and his business go bust as he struggled to engage with life, but for more than two years now he has been well.

The father-of-two, who will be on medication for the rest of his life, is setting up his own charity, called Let Your Light Shine.

It will be specifically for people with mental health problems who are having suicidal thoughts, as well as for the families and friends of suicide victims.

He said: “I’m launching a campaign to attract trustees and volunteers to get it off the ground.

“I have a fantastic life now. I’m engaged to be married, have a really good social life and am really excited about the future. I want to help other people now.”

He is looking for social workers and health workers, as well as people working in the legal profession or with experience of social media and technology to join his team.

Dan wants to establish a drop-in centre and a dedicated phone line for people in desperate need.

He is also offering motivational workshops.

He said: “When I was really ill, there was nobody really that dealt with suicide at the time.

“It’s such a big problem that’s not talked about often enough, and is often swept under the carpet.

“When I was first ill in the early 1990s, nobody spoke about mental illness.

“Schizophrenia is still never spoken about and I think a lot of it has to do with its portrayal in the media.”

For more information, visit www.danielwinterbourne.wordpress.com. If you would like to get involved, email danwinterbourne1in4@gmail.com.

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