WHEN teacher Carole Dimmock was forced to retire after suffering crippling depression, she managed to re-build her life through volunteer work.
And two studies by experts have since found a link between voluntary work and mental wellbeing.
With more than 26,000 admissions to psychiatric hospitals in London every year, mental health has never been more important.
Now Mrs Dimmock has been honoured with an award.
The retired primary school teacher from Uxbridge begun to suffer from severe depression in 2000 due to overwork and criticism, and spent time in hospital, eventually having to take early retirement.
Eight years on, Mrs Dimmock has been recognised for overcoming her own mental health problems.
The ceremony was organised by Capital Volunteering, a programme that tackles mental health issues and social exclusion.
Capital Volunteering operates across eleven London boroughs, including Hillingdon.
Mrs Dimmock volunteers at the Oak Tree Self Help Group in Uxbridge, and last week accepted the award on behalf of all the volunteers there.
The group, which meets once a week at Christ Church, opposite Uxbridge Station, helps provide mutual support as well as arranging holidays and day trips to help provide something positive in its members' lives.
Mrs Dimmock emphasised the supportive role of the group and said: "It is important for the group to show each other that they are not alone."
TV presenter Andrea Maflin, who presented the award, said: "Hearing the stories of the award winners has been terribly moving.
"It is amazing to see people care for each other."