Funds raised by our BBC Radio 4 appeal ‘Izzy’s Story’ will be used to increase our mental health support services for Adult Congenital Heart Patients.

Supporting the mental health of adults and young people who were born with heart problems is one of our key priorities. We know from speaking to patients daily and through our work with healthcare providers that there is a lack of support for patients to address the emotional impact of living with a congenital heart defect (CHD).

We call our mental health programme Hearts & Minds. It highlights, prioritises and addresses mental health and wellbeing in people with CHD; people like Izzy.

Izzy told us, “The days were dark and I spent many of them counting down the hours until I could go to bed and cry. I would wake up late to shorten the days and be in bed early to listen and count my heartbeat.”

Izzy is not alone. It is extremely common to experience anxiety, panic attacks, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues when living with a heart problem. Izzy cites The Somerville Foundation’s peer-support groups and free confidential helpline as saving her. They helped her to realise that she’s not alone and to start building her ‘Mental Health Toolkit’ to help her take control of her mental health.

Through the programme we:

  • Coordinate meet-ups where patients can meet others going through similar things and build their own support networks
  • Deliver 1:1 counselling
  • Provide a free confidential helpline for patients and their families
  • Support people with CHD to build their ‘Mental Health Toolkit’
  • Offer access to closed Facebook groups where patients can share their experiences and support each other
  • Work with other agencies to identify and bridge gaps in the provision of mental health support
  • Develop accessible training materials, available online and offline
  • Push for continuous improvement to deliver the best outcomes for patients

Your donations will fund:

  • More places for patients at peer-support groups and meet-ups
  • More mental health counsellors
  • The extension of our free confidential helpline service

We couldn’t do this without you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.