A BUSINESS founder inspired a European conference with her journey from the depths of mental despair.
Theresa Bates, from Bognor Regis, was a key delegate at the Brussels event in which she made her public speaking debut.
She spoke movingly to her audience from around the continent about how she had transformed her life from patient to company operations director and leader.
Theresa, 50, has become a role model and helper to people in the community struggling with learning disabilities, mental health issues and dementia.
She said: “I have never done any public speaking before and I was extremely nervous on the day.
“However, everybody was very supportive and I managed to get through it okay.”
Mrs Bates’ experiences led to her being invited to speak at the fourth annual convention of the European Platform Against Poverty and Social Exclusion.
She told how her health problems suddenly began.
She changed from a person who was never in to one who didn’t want to go out.
She became socially isolated despite seeing psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers for almost a decade.
After moving from the north-east to Sussex, she began doing picture framing work at a ‘therapeutic workshop’ and never took a single day off sick.
That enterprise closed and Mrs Bates, supported by her husband, Ian, was backed to start Frame of Mind.
It became a community interest company in 2006. Four years ago, they moved into larger premises at Arun Business Park.
Their success story has proved a genuine inspiration to others.
Frame of Mind’s main work is providing quality picture frames for the private and public sectors.
It also provides a digital printing service and computer training.
The trainees have mental health issues but everyone is treated equally.
“Picture framing requires a great deal of concentration, helping people to forget a lot of their worries and anxiety,” said Mrs Bates.
“We know that no-one, including ourselves, is going to get rich working in FOM. But we all feel more in control of our own lives, able to contribute something to the business and each other.
“We feel more empowered. That’s like winning the lottery.”