I don’t have a mental health illness but……
Yes, Idon’t have a mental health illness, but Iam really interested in mental health illness and general mental health wellbeing. And I don’t have any close relation with a mental health illness also. Or maybe I do, I just didnt recognise it at the time.
Anyway, back to why I am interested in mental health. Just over 8 years ago I was made redundant from a financial services related company in the City of London. It was during the height of the credit crunch in 2008 kicked off by the likes of Lehman Brothers. By the way I work as a Learning and Development Practitioner. So I was made redundant and got another job as soon as possible as I needed to pay my bills. At the time it was all about taking the earliest available job which pays enough, which is what I did. But little did I know that job would change my life. The organisation I got the job with is involved in providing nonclinical support for people with learning disabilities and mental health illnesses.
It took me just a couple of months to fall in love with the organisation and thank the people who made me redundant. The salary was n’t higher than what I received in my previous job, but I have learnt a lot and still continue to learn since I still work there. Now you can call me unambitious for working at the same job for 8+ years, but when you find yourself in a job where you actually believe you are making a difference and you get to learn about things you’ve been ignorant about previously, then it’s worth the long stay.
For the first time in my life I understood what a learning disability is, what mental health illness actually is. I also saw the real work of a support worker. Way back we called people who worked in such organisations care workers and we believed (ignorantly off course) that all they did was clean and carry people, and that it was a non-skilled job that anybody could get into and do. I don’t have those perceptions anymore. Support workers work with people who have learning disabilities and mental health conditions to help them live a good quality life and this requires a diverse range of skills such as emotional intelligence, effective and creative communication, planning, organising, and writing skills just to mention a few.
I have actually found out that people who see support work as just caring for people often make poor support workers when they get into the job. Anyway I got to see the impact of mental health illnesses first hand and I was touched. When you see a 20-year old lady with such promise and skills affected by the symptoms of schizophrenia or bipolar, it touches you.
On the basis of my experience I decided that I want to be a person who contributes to improving the quality of mental health support. And no I don’t intend to become a mental health nurse, psychologist, psychiatrist or CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) practitioner. I have decided that I can use the skills, knowledge and experience I already have to contribute. I’ve decided to write and publish training, learning and development resources that can be used for mental health support training in non-clinical mental health support settings. I’ve chosen this blog to also write about my what I intend to do. Okay I do want to do it as a small business, but one that provides resoucres that are of good quality, easy to access in a digital format and affordable. Yes affordable. I don’t believe mental health training should be expensive, but that’s a personal value I hold.
So my challenge is to keep this up. Move forward, write and publish resources.