I’ve known Adam Shaw for around seven years now. An extremely successful businessman and a doting family man to his wife and five kids, he has a house and lifestyle that many could only dream of. He was my boss at the legal and financial services company I used to work for and is my current boss at his charity The Shaw Mind Foundation, where I work as a Project Manager.
Adam has everything to live for. And yet a few years back, he was prepared to end it all by taking his own life.
You see, Adam once suffered from debilitating OCD, anxiety and depression. He had thoughts about killing his wife and hurting his children. He had thoughts about hurting the most vulnerable people, both those he knew and complete strangers. Things got so bad at one stage that he took to carrying around a pair of handcuffs, so he could restrain himself should he ever act on these dark thoughts.
Hardly the type of OCD that many people naively joke about and trivialise, while quipping one-liners about hand-washing or lining up teaspoons in a certain way, is it?
Adam may have had these awful thoughts – but they are just that: thoughts. The majority of people with mental health issues don’t present any danger to society and are more of a danger to themselves, often taking their own lives to end their mental torture. And that is what Adam was so close to doing when he stood on a bridge overlooking the train track one evening, only a few years ago.
When the A&E department at the local NHS hospital didn’t give Adam the help he most desperately needed in his moment of crisis, Adam found private help via Dr Lauren Callaghan, which able to fund himself. Lauren was absolutely instrumental to his recovery.
Together Adam and Dr Lauren set up the mental health charity The Shaw Mind Foundation, to help other sufferers who may not be in as fortunate a position as Adam to be able to pay for treatment themselves.
Despite knowing Adam for so many years, it came as a complete shock to me when recently, over a catch-up coffee one afternoon, he disclosed to me his harrowing battle with mental illness. Here was someone who I revered so greatly, who had mentored me and assigned me projects to work on, telling me about his shocking journey with OCD, anxiety and depression. He told me about things he had gone through from the tender age of five right up until a few years ago – whilst he was my boss. And I had had no idea of his suffering when we worked together.
It was at this point that he mentioned that he had set up a global mental health charity so he could help other sufferers. He has also used his entrepreneurial skills to set up a sister publishing company, Trigger Press, which publishes books solely about mental health. Their Pulling The Trigger series is already seeing success in the Amazon rankings. 80% of the proceeds for these books go directly back to The Shaw Mind Foundation. So, not only do the readers benefit from reading these innovative self-help books, but other sufferers do too, via the charity.
Whilst on UK TV show ‘This Morning’, Adam explained all about his battle with mental illness and also mentioned that he is currently petitioning the Government to make mental health education a mandatory subject within the UK.
Over 37,000 people have already signed this petition within the six weeks it has been in existence. You can sign and share the petition here. Below are some shocking statistics of why mental health education needs to be compulsory:
- Mental illness affects three children in every UK classroom.
- One in five children will experience a mental health difficulty before the age of eleven.
- 850,000 UK children aged 5-16 have mental health problems.
- A 70% increase in the number of reported cases of self-harm in British 10-14 year olds over the past two years.
- The number of young people going to A&E with a psychiatric condition has risen 106% since 2009.
Natalie Beggs – Project Manager, The Shaw Mind Foundation.