Case Study: Debbie Roche, Snapshot

Debbie Roche, Snapshot


Snapshot was set up two years ago in Plymouth to support individuals and their loved ones; to raise awareness of mental health problems and to provide advice and information for those that need help.

Snapshot was set up two years ago in Plymouth to support individuals and their loved ones; to raise awareness of mental health problems and to provide advice and information for those that need help. With an estimated 16 million people in the UK living with a condition, such as, anxiety; depression; anorexia or psychosis it is a problem that directly or indirectly affects us all.

  • 10% of children aged 5-16 have been diagnosed with a mental health problem.
  • One in every four adults in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.
  • The poorer and more disadvantaged are more likely to suffer.
  • An estimated 20% of days off work in the UK are due to mixed anxiety and depression

Snapshot was set up by Debbie Roche, who was working as a lecturer in social care when her life was turned upside-down by anorexia. Despite her background, Debbie was unprepared with the arrival of anorexia in her home, the debilitating impact it had on her son and her own state-of-mind; 

"I suffered a lot of guilt because I couldn’t see what was wrong with him,” she admits. “And after he was diagnosed, I kept asking myself ‘Why didn’t I see it?’ I didn’t see it because anorexia is such a manipulative, secretive condition."

Debbie says that, at the time, she didn’t have the skills or the knowledge to help her son but what she did have in abundance was love and determination. She gave up her job to care for him full-time and then she started to read; 

"I had to have the ammunition to support him to live." 

Debbie learnt so much about anorexia and its co-conditions that she achieved a Diploma in Eating Disorders. With academic insight, the pieces of the jigsaw fell into place and Debbie began to see the bigger picture, that eating disorders are linked to depression and anxiety. As her son’s health improved so Debbie began to realise that her knowledge; her experience and her skills could help other people going through the same thing; 

"So, I took it out there,” she says, “I went out to support other people." 

Debbie became a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trainer; a Mental Health Network Co-ordinator in Plymouth and a member of several strategic boards around the city supporting people’s health and wellbeing. In 2016 she set up the social enterprise, Snapshot, through which she delivers a series of awareness-raising courses on the most common mental health disorders; 

"We’ve found that by holding a short course, of about two hours, and focussing on a condition such as, depression, self-harm or eating disorders people are more likely to pick up on something that’s not quite right, in someone they know."

Increasing the visibility of mental health conditions is an important step towards encouraging and enabling someone to seek help. With 16 million people in this country suffering right now we need to do all that we can to support them because next week it could be you.