'When I was 11 years old there was an arson attack on my home. All our possessions were destroyed in the fire and, worst of all, both my beloved dogs died.'
Janie Banks, from Basildon, was left with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the attack.
‘I had night terrors and flashbacks and panic attacks because of it,’ she explained.
The 20-year-old is working with Fixers to inspire young people to take up a hobby to help with life’s troubles.
Her story was told on ITV News Anglia on March 9.
‘Diving for me is an escape, and a way to deal with, not only the PTSD, but all of the challenges that I was going through,' she said.
Janie finds diving a great stress-reliever and wants other young people find an activity they enjoy to take their minds off things. She has gone on to qualify as a master diver and is currently training as an instructor to help other people who are going through similar experiences.
‘It’s like an hour a week of therapy,’ she says. ‘Being submerged under water and just being able to think or not think or just be yourself is just so amazing.’
Scuba diving is Janie’s hobby, but with Fixers, she wants to encourage young people to try different activities to improve mental and physical health.
Jim Messenger, the Sportivate Manager at Active Essex, is backing Janie’s campaign.
He says: ‘It’s really important for young people to find a hobby or activity outside of their normal life that they can really grow into, something that challenges them, something that’s really fun to do.
'And there’s lots of evidence of the benefits for people who engage in these sorts of activities - for their physical health, their mental health and their social development.’
Janie believes everyone can benefit from incorporating an activity into their daily routine to improve mental health problems.
‘A lot of us have challenges in life that we have to deal with,’ says Janie. ‘It doesn’t have to be a mental health problem. It can be a disability, work stress, anything really.
'I think it’s really important to find something in life where you don’t have to be serious or you don’t have to be you. You can just enjoy it and enjoy the passion of it.’