"'Let's Connect' is the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, with a focus on loneliness and our mental health. This year, we want to bring to light the loneliness felt by many living with HIV, either with the virus themselves, or in some way connected to someone who is.

"Most people find HIV a really hard thing to live with psychologically - some issues that people live with that can feel isolating can be around taking medication, feelings of guilt and shame, issues around sex and relationships, disclosing to other people, drugs and alcohol, and also lacking friends or social groups living in a similar situation to feel safe with.

"The past two years have made things more isolating for many, so it’s been harder to find that support. Reaching out and being able to share how you are feeling can be a huge relief, and a counsellor is someone who will provide a safe and confidential space for this. You won’t be judged or told what you should or shouldn’t do – it’s a space where you can empower yourself to feel more confident about making those decisions for yourself. Many people who go into counselling also find it helpful to talk to someone who isn’t connected to anyone else you know, which is especially important if you don’t want anyone you know to find out.

"Our HIV support counselling services are provided remotely, either over the phone or through a video call. This can be just as effective as face-to-face - and there’s the added convenience of not needing to travel anywhere.

"We currently offer free counselling to residents of:

  • Wandsworth
  • Richmond
  • Merton
  • Sutton
  • Kingston
  • Croydon
  • Surrey
  • Essex

"After an initial assessment to discuss if METRO counselling is the appropriate service for you at this time, you’d be offered 6 or 12 sessions of counselling, once per week for 50 minutes.

"Counselling isn’t a crisis service, so if you are at immediate risk of harming yourself (or someone else), you should contact 999, go to A&E or contact your GP. Samaritans also provide 24/7 emotional support (freecall 116123).", Mark Kenichi Davies, Mental Health and Wellbeing Counsellor.

Contact [email protected] to find out more, or you can call Mark on 07703 195875.

For further details on services, you can visit our Mental Health services directory.