Stroke survivors in Cornwall who are struggling to cope with its often overwhelming emotional aftermath are now being helped by a new service provided by the Stroke Association.

In Cornwall, more than 1,000 people have a stroke each year and there are more than 14,000 people living with the effects of stroke.

The charity’s research suggests three-quarters of stroke survivors experience mental health impacts following their stroke, meaning that in Cornwall thousands of people are struggling every day with the toll a stroke takes on their mental health.

Jacqui Cuthbert, the charity’s associate director for the South West and Channel Islands, said the impact of stroke on mental health was huge.

“Stroke survivors tell us that they and their families need support after they are discharged home and the enormity of what has happened hits them,” said Jacqui. “Often this has severe consequences to their mental health and well-being.

“They feel frightened, anxious, confused and shocked. They worry about having another stroke and do not know who or where to turn to for help.

“This can slow recovery drastically after a stroke, bring on depression and even contribute to hospital readmission.

“Family members are catapulted into a role which no-one prepared them for and this can have enormous emotional repercussions. Around two thirds of carers have told us that the emotional impact of stroke was by far the most devastating to cope with.

“If you’re a stroke survivor or a carer, our new Cornwall Emotional Support Service is here for you.

“One of our friendly, qualified, counsellors will talk through the challenges you’re facing, and identify what support you may need to help you rebuild life after stroke. We’ll work with you to help you come to terms with what’s happened to you.

“Our counsellors will tailor their support for your individual needs, focusing on issues such as loss and adjustment, relationships, understanding guilt and anger, and building confidence and self-esteem.”

The charity will also be helping stroke survivors and carers in other ways.

“The rural nature of Cornwall means stroke survivors are far more at risk of isolation with significant consequences to their mental health and well-being,” said Jacqui.

“Another concern is that people who had a stroke during the pandemic may have been discharged from hospital more quickly than usual, some with limited community therapy.

“We will be helping stroke survivors get online to find out more about the effects of stroke, find out what’s available and chat with other survivors.

“While stroke can happen at any age, it is most prevalent in older people who can be less comfortable using technology.

“Working with our partners we will help them to access the digital support which can aid recovery.

“This includes ‘My Stroke Guide’, the Stroke Association’s interactive online site that offers chat forums to connect stroke survivors and carers as well as videos and a wealth of information and guidance on stroke recovery.

“We can also signpost people to other services in Cornwall which may be able to help them.”

Referrals to the new service will usually be made by other health services but stroke survivors and carers can contact the service directly by calling 01872 301689 or emailing Cornwall

You can also find out more by going to the charity’s website and searching for Cornwall.

The Cornwall Emotional Support Service has been funded by a bequest from the estate of Elwyn Thomas, a well-known Truro auctioneer who died in October 2017.