Nigel goes down on the farm to battle illness

HEALTHY EATING: Nigel and NHS Derbyshire County's Sheila Platt look over as Jenny Reynolds (key worker Derby Intensive Family Service) removes the roasted veg.
HEALTHY EATING: Nigel and NHS Derbyshire County's Sheila Platt look over as Jenny Reynolds (key worker Derby Intensive Family Service) removes the roasted veg.

A MAN battling bipolar disorder for the past seven years is unearthing a new recipe to lose weight and lead a better life.

Nigel Webb, of Shirebrook, who weighs 23 stone, was one of six people with mental health problems to take part in two special healthy eating days organised by NHS Derbyshire County at Langwith’s Rhubarb Farm.

During the courses people with mental illness got to dig up vegetables, choose their own menus, learn about good nutrition, salt levels, play vegetable bingo and eat healthy food together.

They form part of a wider British Heart Foundation-backed project being led by NHS Derbyshire County.

The project looks at why people with mental illness typically have their lives cut short by ten or 15 years due to lifestyle habits linked to depressive tendencies. These include poor diet, infrequent exercise, and antipsychotics, which can increase weight gain and put an undue strain on the heart.

Now Nigel’s support worker Sally Robinson, who works at Shirebrook’s Byron Street residency, says that the 35-year-old – who suffers from anxiety attacks – has been shocked into changing his eating habits.

She said: “He’s really changed his eating habits since he went on the course at Rhubarb Farm. I think it really shocked him to see the danger high levels of salt and sugar can have on his body. He used to cook chips and burgers, which are all high in fat and salt, and can increase the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes if consumed as part of a poor diet.

“But now he’s really turned over a new leaf – making healthy soups such as carrot, potato and leek as part of a balanced diet.”

NHS Derbyshire County were given £100,000 by the British Heart Foundation to lead the ‘Hearty Lives Bolsover’ project – which is the only one specifically looking at severe mental illness and links between heart disease in the country.

Sheila Platt, Hearty Lives Bolsover project coordinator for NHS Derbyshire County, said: “It’s a real tragedy that so many people with severe mental health problems can have their lives cut short. It’s even more heartbreaking to think most people aren’t even aware of this fact.

“One in six people in the area are estimated to have a common mental health disorder, so these courses at Rhubarb Farm were designed to inspire people to make small but significant changes to their lifestyles and help them overcome a debilitating illness.”