There is a well worn phrase that we sometimes hear, namely, “actions speak louder than words.” For me it really has to be about putting that phrase into action.
It has to be about recognising the huge daily struggles that many people ensure. The often difficult and upsetting pasts they often have, the stigma of having a mental health diagnosis, the sometimes poor or non-existent network of family and or friends which can so often be the difference between coping and not coping. Often this can also be accompanied with current or historic problems of alcohol or substance misuse.
Make no mistake, these are serious and considerable impediments to living a full life. As a mental health worker I know that talk is easy, but that to make a real difference requires resilience from those such as myself and others in the so-called caring professions. It can often be one step forwards and two or three back. Life might be lived forwards, but people live with their pasts.
My values mean I will not give up on people. I will keep on keeping on. I will look to get alongside those I am supporting and help them to see that their lives can be more full, that despite the huge hurdles, their lives have value and meaning, not in any sentimental sense, but to help instill or re-instill and maintain dignity and self worth.
So, it is not about anything other than collaborating and helping people not just to recover but to discover themselves again as valued human beings.
I am very much focussed on:
• Empowering people, helping them have a voice especially when it comes to ensuring their experiences are heard, understood and fully taken into account by others. So often this is not the case and for those struggling with poor mental health, to realise you are not being listened to is demoralising and dispiriting.
• Ensuring that recovery plans and other support is worked out with the client. They much feel it is all about them, that they can genuinely “buy into” a plan that is achievable and which can change as they develop and become more confident.
• Helping clients to engage with the NHS, their GP and others and to ensuring that those bodies are receptive to working with them and us, to get the best outcomes. I am not unmindful of my experiences in mental health, where people feel “done to” as if this should automatically be in their best interests.
So, to conclude, I set high standards, I expect to be called to account if I struggle to meet those standards and I will look to learn as I go, both from those I support and from the NHS and others. After all, no one has a monopoly of wisdom!