Heather Fothergill, aged 18 years old shares her mental health journey and how being part of Oban Mountain Rescue Team has helped her along the way.
I grew up in the Oban area attending Oban High school. In my final years there and for a significant time after after I left, I was affected quite badly with depression and anxiety. This affected me in a number of different ways leading me to cease all involvement in sport, things I enjoyed and as a result lost all motivation to do anything. I am currently on my journey to recovery which is going very well and has been helped by joining the Mountain Rescue Team.
Why did you decide to join the mountain rescue team?
I have always had a love for the hills and have been up and down many with my Dad from a young age. Not only this but I have a love for working as a team and the sense of accomplishment that comes with that. I have also always been keen to learn new skills and that in the mountain rescue provides many opportunities for this. I could go on but they are my main reasons why I decided to give it a go.
Is being in the mountain rescue team what you expected it to be like?
When I first joined I didn’t really know what to expect but one of the main things that surprised me was how supportive and helpful the team are, for example, if you don’t know how to tie a certain knot that won’t be a problem, you will be taught and not looked down upon at all for it.
Has being part of the mountain rescue helped you?
Yes definitely, I has made me get up and out with a purpose to do something positive and help others.
What coping techniques have you used?
One of my main coping techniques that I used was getting up and outside either going for a run or a walk with my dog, just trying to use anything to get up and out of the house. Alongside that I used my love for music to help me.
What have you learnt from being in a mountain rescue team about looking after your mental health?
I already knew how important it was to look after your mental health but being in the mountain rescue has shown me that even more. You may come back from a long training day feeling exhausted, not only physically but mentally as well. After a full day of training you may also have to think about all the tasks you have been involved in and consider the pressure on yourself of making sure you do everything right. As a result, you then have to take the time after a day like that to reflect and talk about what happened to your fellow team mates.
This is very important to do so you can reflect and move on in a healthy way.
Do you have any advice for people who maybe struggling with their mental health?
I would definitely advise them to talk to someone. It does not matter who, anyone that will listen. This will help a huge amount and is one of the first steps to recovery. I would also advise to try to get up and out for a walk or a run or even out to see friend, anything that will get you out of the house. For me, joining the Mountain Rescue Team was a great way of combining exercise, outdoors and giving to others, all of which have contributed greatly to my own recovery.