I'm gaining experience and benefiting my studies
Tell us about the job
I am very interested in mental health and thought that a support worker role would give me direct experience and an excellent learning opportunity in the area, which it most definitely has! For the last three months I have been working in a low-secure hospital supporting patients who are mostly, but not exclusively, detained under the Mental Health Act. I have been building relationships with service users and implementing my training in times of crisis by supporting them and helping to de-escalate situations. The situations I have been in have ranged from varying degrees of attempted self-harm through a variety of means, dealing with challenging behaviours and encouraging and promoting adaptive behaviours and attitudes.
I have also worked in a community step-down house in which the service users are being integrated back into the community. Here we promote independence and encourageconfidence in the service user's own abilities. This work is far less intense, however there are still issues with challenging behaviour.
What do you enjoy about it?
I have learnt loads - mostly how when dealing with people, it is important to remember that illness labels are very basic.
Every person is different and they should be understood or attempted to be understood at that unique level. I’ve learnt about the different relationship styles that are useful when working in this area (the majority of the girls here respond well to humour!). I have also become highly interested in how people’s attitudes and particularly antipathy develop towards individuals that self-harm and display challenging behaviour.
What have you learned?
The placement has given me the opportunity to see for real, rather than in theory, the experiences of people who suffer with mental health issues. From building relationships and seeing people in crisis, I am developing a more subjective understanding of the experiences of individuals with mental health conditions.
How has the placement helped you with your studies?
A key benefit has been that I have been able to meet and talk with many mental health professionals who have offered advice on my career. I have also been offered the opportunity to work within the psychology department and on research projects.