IN TIMES when more and more people are increasingly struggling with their mental health and now local author Steve Richards is doing his part in seeking to be part of the solution.

Mr Richards, from Ross-on-Wye, has lived with depression for nearly 40 years of his life and says he plans to live with it for much longer. Despite this Mr Richards has completed a successful career in engineering and investment banking and considers himself a ‘happy depressive’.

He now enjoys his retirement in Ross by engaging in voluntary activities such as helping to run the local youth club and playing plenty of sport.

Since retiring he has also taken to writing and has just produced a book aimed at helping others do the same, he has also taken a masters courses in psychology and creative writing. He decided to use his experience of coping with mental illness and the skills he honed on his creative passion.

"The Happy Depressive - How to live, thrive and survive with chronic depression," was published on May 23 and is available through Waterstones and all other bookstores in both paperback and on-line eBook formats.

Each chapter of his book draws upon his lived experience to illustrate an aspect of the illness, the challenges it poses and the coping strategies that have got him through the worst of times.

It also deals with the surprising upsides of living with depression and he invites others to join him in the ranks of happy depressives by developing their own coping strategies.

For those whom may be living with someone with a depressive family member or friend, Mr Richards got his wife Anne to write a chapter about living with a depressive partner so that others caring for someone with mental illness can feel less alone.

The message of the book is one of hope. Mr Richards concluded: “People may have been diagnosed with a condition which will be with us for life in some cases, but it does not need to define our life or remove our chances of being happy.”