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Miss England finalist Chloe McEwen shares her mental health journey – highlighting Mental Health week

By 13th May 2024 No Comments

Mental health week is 13th – 19th May – the week of the Miss England finals & here Chloe Mcewen shares her own mental health journey 

“Hello everyone, my name is Chloe Mcewen, I’m 22 years old, from Harrogate  North Yorkshire. I am the current Miss Yorkshire representing Yorkshire in the 2024 Miss England finals.

 I am a level 3 qualified personal trainer, but most importantly I am passionate about inspiring and helping lift people’s mental health, not only through fitness of course but through many other tools that have helped me find peace and happiness along the way.

My awareness and journey with mental health all started at the age of 16.

I was a  young, naive teenager and one Friday evening was having a few drinks with some friends. Being a teen, I had drank alcohol before and been fine, but on this occasion I was not. It was suspected I was spiked, but nothing was ever proved.

I ended up not sleeping for 3 days. Day 1 and 2 went by and the lack of sleep started to have severe effects on my mental state. By day 3 of no sleep, I was hallucinating horrific things, having scary delusional and paranoid thoughts and thought people were out to get me. It felt like I was living in a real life horror film. Due to experiencing these delusions, I tried escaping out of my bedroom window and became a danger to myself. At this point the emergency services were called and after being assessed by around 12 different medical professionals, they came to the decision to place me on a section 2, meaning I had to be detained in a secure psychiatric hospital for up to 28 days to be monitored and kept safe.

 Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse. Whilst being detained in hospital the doctors tried me on many medications to try to balance my brain chemistry, but nothing agreed with me. Once the 28 day section approached, I was to have another full medical team assessment.  Since showing no signs of recovery, I was placed on a section 3 which meant I was now detained for up to 6 months and due to the severity of my mental health and still enduring psychotic episodes,  I had to be sent to a higher secure psychiatric hospital in Manchester, which was much more restrictive. Some would compare it to being as bad as living in a prison.

It was an old, mediaeval building, with bars on the windows and was very secure so no one could ever escape.  At this stage I had still totally lost touch with reality,  not knowing who anyone was, what I was doing and had lost all sense of safety. I was unrecognisable to anyone that knew me.

After a few months of being in this hospital and after trialling many different medications, luckily I started to slowly remember who my family were and who I was. The delusional thoughts and hallucinations were slowly fading away due to the medication finally working. This was great news! It meant I was able to have some freedom back and eventually some  home leave but this wasn’t a quick process. They had to assess me over a period of months to make sure I was well enough to be released back home.

 As I became more compos mentis, I became more aware of my surroundings and it  became challenging having to stay in this hospital around all of these severely mentally unwell youths.

 I was missing my home comforts. I had forgotten what that felt like, to feel safe and comfortable in your own bed.

During the months of recovering in hospital, I turned to food for comfort, leading me to gain nearly 4 stone in weight. Food was the main luxury we had in there, luxuries such as phones weren’t allowed, they were seen as a risk and hazard because of the glass in the screen.

After finally being well enough, for a long enough period,  I was given the ok to start having home leave.

The recovery was just to begin….. I started suffering  badly with anxiety, due to the isolation, side effects from all of the different medications (massively affecting my energy levels) as well as the extra weight I had put on, all knocking my confidence massively.

 It was only when I came back out into ‘the real world’ that I realised I was not the same outgoing, healthy young girl anymore. Unable to do the ‘simple things’ that most of us wouldn’t think twice about, like having a conversation, cooking a meal, going for a walk on my own were no longer so effortless.

One of the biggest lessons I learnt from all of this was there is always somebody worse off, so I started practising gratitude everyday. The thought of feeling grateful seemed impossible to start with, but I realised there is  ALWAYS something to be grateful for and I had my freedom and home back, which was a great start!

Practising gratitude and focusing on what I did have instead of what i didnt, massively helped shift my mind-set from negative to positive.I will never take my health and freedom for granted again.

Luckily I had amazing support from my mum, who slowly encouraged me back into wellbeing and exercise. She chose to focus on  giving me as much support as she possibly could and to focus on what was in our control to help lift me up and help make me better.

I was struggling to get out of bed, let alone get through an intense workout like I did before and do now. I would go back to the gym several times and be so overwhelmed with anxiety and lack of energy, that I would just walk straight back out again.  So I took a different approach. Rather than expecting unrealistic goals for me at that time, I started practising small daily disciplines and commitments to myself that were achievable and not overwhelming.

 Getting out of the house every day, even if it was just for 5 minutes was the first goal. The more I stuck to this, the more my mood started to lift and I slowly built up confidence and pushed for more. I started going for longer walks, then gentle workouts, guided meditations to calm my mind and added healthy food swaps to help boost my energy levels and gradually progressed from there.

I slowly started to get my confidence back, lost some of the weight I had gained and managed to wean off the majority of my medication under a medical professional.

If I pushed through, especially on the harder days, I was proud of myself by the end.

 By trying my best, continuing to practise gratitude day & night, I was starting to improve and feel human again.

 Finally I went back to college when I was 17 and opted for personal training. After the battle I had, I learnt so much about myself and how fitness had a huge role in my recovery, as well as building my confidence at the same time. It really helped change my life for the better.

 Through my hardest and loneliest time, I managed to find myself and learn so much and even found a job that I love that can help others, once I had passed my  qualification as a P.T!

 What once felt like a curse, became my biggest blessing. I found my purpose at such a young age. I knew that If I can heal myself and overcome all of this, I can share my story and tools with others to give them hope and inspiration to do the same. Helping others helps me  find more peace and happiness.

My advice to anyone that is going through a tough time, is that life works in equal balance of bad and good. Without rain, you can’t appreciate the sun. Through challenges comes growth, strength and lessons.

Start being grateful for what you already have rather than what you don’t.   There is always something to be grateful for. Remembering this really allows me to see life in a different light. I am grateful for every day I wake up now.

Unfortunately I relapsed since this time, due to me thinking I was well enough to totally come off the last of my medication without a medical professional. Luckily this was a shorter relapse and by learning so much the first time, I managed to recover faster and learn to never come off my medication unless advised to by my doctor.

Since winning Miss Yorkshire it has enabled me to reach many more people and has given me the platform to do public talks on this matter and inspire and help some of those currently struggling with their mental health throughout my community.

Never in a million years would  17 year old me think I would recover the way I have, become a level 3 personal trainer, be helping people, speaking on stage and win Miss Yorkshire!!! It really has  been more than a dream come true!

Since being crowned in October 2023, I started volunteering for the charity ‘MIND in Harrogate‘, by helping out in their weekly arts & crafts group, doing 1 to 1 fitness & mindfulness sessions as well as talks sharing my story and mind-set tools such as, exercise, meditation, nutrition,  practising gratitude and mindfulness activities  which can help improve your mental health.

Recently I  also climbed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks with Lisa Ellis, another Miss England Finalist and managed to raise just over 1700 pounds for Mind in Harrogate. This was the ultimate mental & physical challenge, but we did it!

My goal now is to be able to reach many more with my story and tools and be an inspiration to anyone struggling with their mental health. If I can overcome being sectioned, bipolar disorder and now using this as my strength to help others, so can others. If only I had an influencer to look up too, who had been through something similar, a lot of my doubts about never being normal again could have been diminished sooner.

I would also love to be able to raise funding for those in psychiatric hospitals so they can have access to better nutrition, mindfulness activities and complementary therapies in the wards and on release, as well as having the knowledge on how to help heal themself as they return home.

Winning Miss England will allow me to reach the wider population. With crisis teams inundated and under- resourced especially after the pandemic, it is clearly a matter that needs more attention. The Miss England platform will fast track me to raise much needed awareness and to inspire and educate many more of those in need.

There is always light at the end of the tunnel.”

Chloe will be representing Yorkshire at the Miss England national finals at the Grand Station Wolverhampton on 16th & 17th May 2024 sponsored by Watermans Hair . For tickets visit