Stress, trauma, illness and abuse are often part of people's everyday lives - but they are also factors that can contribute to mental illness.

An increase in the number of people suffering means that now 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a form of mental health problem each year.

To help tackle this problem, a project has been set up at The Drawingroom in Chesham to make sure people aren’t suffering in silence.

The Drawing Room

Weekly walk-in meetings are now being held with two counsellors from Willow Therapy Tring, who will lend an ear to anyone who needs it.

Instead of one-on-one meetings, the community hub will provide group support - where people can have a confidential chat in a safe and supported space - with free tea, coffee and cake.

Richard Elkington, the owner of The Drawingroom, said its aimed at people who maybe don’t feel they have a voice or even just needs a chat in a safe environment.

“There is nothing so true as the wisdom ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’,” he said.

“Most of us know or can relate to how powerful our state of mind is upon our happiness and well-being - having someone to talk to, to share the burden, the loneliness or isolation, can help immensely.

“The very act of sharing and expressing one’s pain pushes it out and it has its own cathartic, healing effect.

“Getting help sooner rather than later is so important; there is often a delay in getting help - counselling is often months away and it can feel a bleak, lonely space to be in.”

The new project, entitled ‘Ivan’s Home’, is named after Richard’s late brother - who envisioned the idea with Richard before he tragically died in a train accident.

After suffering from a 30-year addiction, Ivan moved into The Drawingroom and within six months he had got clean and became a counsellor.

Ivan Mainwaring

“Having been close to death on numerous occasions, saved by the love and compassion of others - often strangers - compassion, acceptance and understanding was something he completely understood,” Richard said.

“This made him all the more able to be the ear and voice of wisdom people needed to hear. He was as generous as anyone I’ve known.

“There is nothing to lose by coming along - there’s no cost, no judgement, only opportunity. The first group member who returned from last week seemed a changed soul today.

“Last week there had been tears, this week a hug and a smile - it’s already very encouraging.”

Weekly walk-in meetings are held upstairs at The Drawingroom from 9.15 until 1pm. For more information, email