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  • Writer's picturecharlotte lister

Volunteers Week Interview with Sarah Kana-ah - Ms Atlantic 2021 /22

I’m Sarah Kana-ah your current Ms Atlantic 2021 /22. I started volunteering for MIND the mental health charity 2 and a half years ago.

I wanted to volunteer for the charity due to my own personal experiences of mental illness. I’ve suffered a lot with my own mental health over the years - mainly with anxiety, confidence and self esteem issues, which stem from several years of domestic abuse.

I wanted to give something back and be able to help those who may be experiencing similar things to myself. I know how hard it can be battling with anxiety and depression, and how isolating and lonely it can get.

However, when you find yourself struggling it can really help talking to someone who actually understands how you feel, having that person listen and bring you comfort when you find yourself in a dark place. This is why I wanted to become a volunteer and work on the crisis line for MIND. My own struggles have given me the passion and care to want to help other people, and most importantly the genuine understanding of mental illness to be able to offer that support and guidance.

I think lots of people must have thought the same as many of the other volunteers have lived experience of mental health too. This is a great thing as it means I've not experienced any stigma or discrimination. It’s so good to work in a place where there is a mutual understanding - where everyone is supportive and respectful of each other’s past experiences. Everybody comes with their own story and reasons for volunteering but one thing is for certain, you can’t beat the passion and positivity that comes along with it.

Volunteering has really helped my own mental health. Whenever I’ve helped someone it really helps me and gives me a real sense of purpose.

My role within MIND has really given me a real sense of accomplishment by helping others and building that connection and support system. It has helped take my mind off my own worries, keeps me mentally stimulated and gives me a sense of identity. I’ve met some wonderful volunteers and learnt a lot about myself and most importantly developed my knowledge and understand around all the different mental health conditions.

I absolutely love volunteering - it has given me my smile back. I now not only volunteer for MIND, but i also run my own mental health support group too - Somerset Anxiety Support and a female empowerment platform - EMPOWER- Protecting Women’s safety.

My plans for the future with volunteering is to continue giving up my time to support those struggling through both my support groups and MIND. When contact sport is allowed, I plan to voluntarily do face-to-face self-defence workshops to help empower more survivors of abuse, to help build back that inner strength and confidence to stop them from repeating the same cycle of abuse. I’ve made it my lifelong mission to help other survivors of abuse to help bring them hope and strength to move forward and be the best versions of themselves. As your Ms Atlantic my goal is to be a symbol of strength to others

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