A WOMAN who suffers from anxiety and depression has joined a unique health research initiative in Wales to help fight major diseases.

Barry resident Stacie-Mai Pemberton, 26, has signed up to HealthWise Wales, a flagship study aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of the nation to inform new healthcare treatments in Wales.

People aged 16 plus and living in Wales complete short questionnaires every six months as part of the project, which is led by Cardiff University and backed by the Welsh Government.

Ms Pemberton, a peer mentor for Welsh mental health charity Hafal, began to suffer from anxiety and depression when doctors struggled to diagnose her appendicitis.

This, combined with previous insight into different healthcare issues gained while working for the Welsh Ambulance Service, made her sign up to HealthWise Wales.

She said: “My appendicitis wasn’t a textbook case of the illness, so when I went to the doctors with complaints they struggled to diagnose my illness. I was upset and frustrated and developed depression and anxiety. I was finally diagnosed and operated on, and my appendicitis cured, but I felt very mentally fragile.

“Supporting people who suffer from mental health issues at Hafal has meant that I’ve realised things about my own mental health too. I know now, for example, that there were also more long-term reasons for my depression and anxiety, aside from the appendicitis.

“The NHS is a great service, but there is still room for improvement. For this reason, I am committed to initiatives like HealthWise Wales that strive to paint a clearer picture of the changes that need to be made.”

Those registering at healthwisewales.gov.wales will be contacted every six months to complete several questionnaires about their health, lifestyle and wellbeing, so researchers can track changes in people’s health, and study how to prevent the onset of ill-health, and treat and manage a range of health conditions.

Participants will also be contacted about new research studies that they can take part in should they wish to do so.

To find out more and join the study, visit healthwisewales.gov.wales or call the HealthWise Wales team on 0800 9 172 172 or 02920 768090 between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.