In 2016 I joined the Health and Wellbeing College as a student after many years battling with mental illness. I had recently been discharged from the community mental health team and the college was my next step in recovery and one of the most important.
This was the first service I ever saw that really harnessed the lived experience of those with mental health challenges and is what drew me in to the college. Having someone helping you who themselves has lived it too is indescribable. It is incredibly valuable and something that needs to be seen more.
I booked myself onto various courses in my first term and quickly saw just how much self-management is key in recovery. Medication can only do so much, the rest comes from us and the college is the one place that helped me to understand this and put it into practice.
I learnt how to set goals for my future and how important this actually is for me and my recovery. I still goal set to this day, having something in front of me to strive for keeps me on top of my mental health because I need to be well to reach my goals. I learnt how to manage low days, anxious days, days filled with change as well as bringing out my creative side which is something I always said I didn’t have. The college gave me the skills to live life to the full.
In 2017 I started volunteering for the college, undertaking admin duties and attending events to speak about my journey with mental illness and the college’s role in my recovery. Later in this same year I become an employee of the college as a peer trainer. I was standing up in front of groups of 16 people, teaching them the same things I had been taught just the year before. It was incredibly empowering. After working with the college for over 2 years I felt confident enough to spread my wings even further and I started working on the ward I was once a patient as an occupational therapy assistant where I worked full time for a year.
I am now studying a nursing degree at university through an apprenticeship as a Trainee Nursing Associate. In 2 years I will (hopefully) graduate and qualify as a registered nursing associate. Without the years I spent with the college, gaining the confidence and life skills I so desperately needed, I would not be here today.
I adore my college family and I cannot thank them enough for getting me this far. They provide a service that is like no other, a service that empowers its students and creates confidence. The college has an ethos of “Hope, Control and Opportunity” and I think my story is just one of the many that shows how the college truly do live by this for their students