“I came into Mosaic one day and Lee (Employment, Information & Training Coordinator) said, ‘I want your opinion’… It was the first time in my life anyone had ever asked me for my opinion.”
There’s a silence as Linda Oneill, 47, relives that moment of validation. We are in the information hub, the pulse of the Living Well Partnership in Brixton, where Linda as a Mosaic Clubhouse member and trustee helps to host the service, dealing with enquiries on the information line and signposting and offering support to those who are experiencing mental health issues.
She feels lucky that her hospital admission for severe depression in 2010 lasted only eight days. “They thought it would make me worse to stay there so I was discharged to the Home Treatment Team,” she says.
A visionary on that team took her to Mosaic, which was then based in Balham. It was a time when she couldn’t hold a conversation and felt totally isolated, “I only had one friend who was based in Maidstone, ” she says.
“Lee put me to work on the magazine, In the Mo, I’d never used a computer before… the reason Mosaic worked was because people were patient, ” she says. Slowly she started to gain confidence and started to chat to other members and was really surprised during a Recovery Star workshop when another member asked if she could give her a hug.”I panicked… It was the first time I’d hugged someone… ” After that she started to appreciate the value of relationships as she got to know more members and was able to share her lived experiences.”
Linda has come a long way – she speaks to lots of professionals about Mosaic and recently did peer support training with City Lit. She’s a great ambassador for this service because “I know what it’s like to bang your head against a brick wall”, that feeling that no-one is listening. At Mosaic both staff and members walk side by side she says. “What’s important for others is that you can listen; it doesn’t get rid of the problem but it eases their mind.”