When we first applied purple gel polish to Lisa*’s nails, we started talking about her anxiety.
She had been a mental health service user in a rehabilitation ward, but had been discharged and was nervous about a few things.
At the time, I was volunteering on the ward as a Friendship providing social and emotional support to service users, so I was there to listen and help as much as I could.
I couldn’t answer the big questions about life after discharge, but I was able to help her feel comfortable asking questions.
We talked about what was making her uneasy, and then while getting her nails done so she could remember exactly what to say when a nurse or doctor visited her. , wrote a to-do list.
This included her housing, medications (which Lisa was experiencing negative side effects from), and courses she wanted to study at a local university.
Just talking to Lisa about her worries and writing down some next steps helped her calm down and take the weight off her shoulders. It also gave her her true confidence and having a friendly face that frequented her made Lisa feel less alone.
This feeling is just one of the reasons why I am passionate about volunteering in mental health wards. Having previously struggled with her own mental health, she feels it is important to help people in crisis as much as she can.
I first studied real estate and planning at the University of Westminster for two years. During this time, my mental health changed and I found myself struggling with self-harm and depression.
In the years leading up to my crisis, my parents were divorced and I was in some difficult relationships.
This was a lonely experience for me as I was stigmatized into mental health struggles as it’s not something my friends and family can resonate with.
However, after working with various therapies and increasing my spirituality, I finally saw some light at the end of the tunnel. I had no intention of going back to Westminster. From here, I started studying psychology at an open university.
All my volunteer work started in August 2021 when I contacted the Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust and started helping out with the shop trolley.
He visited all wards of St. Pancras Hospital and Highgate Mental Health Center and sold snacks and drinks to staff and service users. This is especially useful for people who can’t get out of the hospital but still want to enjoy their treatment!
I had never done anything like this before, so I was nervous to start. However, the staff were very supportive – they really want you to be comfortable and are always ready to help.
After this experience, I wanted to find a career in this field, so I joined the Career Volunteer Program. This is a national program supported by the charity Helpforce that helps volunteers pursue careers in health and care.
I was so interested in a career within the Trust that I was offered another volunteer role and had a great experience in the hospital.
I assumed the role of a restraint reporting volunteer. This is intended to support service users after being detained for their own safety and health. We will provide an opportunity for service users who have been forced to refrain from speaking up, looking back on the event from their own perspective, and providing feedback.
This helps break down mental health stigma and emphasizes that individual voices matter, even when they’re not feeling well.
As you can imagine, it was important to have adequate detention briefing training. During this training, Joanne Scott, the head of volunteer his services, accompanied me and one more of his volunteers, and St. He attended each debriefing session on restraints at both Pancrase and Highgate. In the first few reports, Jo asked service users about self-restraint, and I wrote down relevant information.
I felt so confident in this role that I was able to complete the detention report with just myself and my fellow volunteers.
I sat with service users in a quiet space and asked them what was causing their restraints and what they could do to improve their time on the ward. We will also provide information on how to find an attorney if you wish to file a complaint.
Debriefing also helps hospital staff understand how service users are feeling and what improvements can be made to avoid the need for restraint next time. I have completed many of these, but some have stuck with me.
The sheets had fresh cuts and blood on them, as the younger had suffered from self-harm. They were unable to speak after being given medication as part of their restraint to help them relax when they were distressed. became.
Fellow debriefing volunteers Martin and I tried to create a safe space for this individual. They couldn’t sit on the bed so we crouched down and sat on the floor with them to show that we were with them and we weren’t in a hurry.
Seeing the impact of my help and experience on others is incredibly rewarding
It’s important to put on a friendly face and make sure that we’re there to do all we can to make them heard. Users of this service were unable to speak, so we worked together to communicate via their phones.
We found they were getting used to us and eventually they told us their problem. They told staff that this particular drug wouldn’t work for them, and this hasn’t changed yet.
Therefore, it was our duty to inform the staff about this in order to change the medication as soon as possible.
Another example of a restraining report was the case of a gentleman who was distressed and caused violence in a hospital ward. After talking to him, I learned that religion was important to him, and that being in a noisy ward meant he couldn’t pray every day.He needed a quiet space. So I was able to get in touch with the staff to find a suitable location.
This stuck with me because my faith played an important role in my recovery and I fully understood how important prayer is to users of this service. , it was great to see how relieved he was after finishing his report. Just making this change changed his experience to a completely positive one.
Seeing the impact of my help and experience on others has been extremely rewarding and I highly encourage more young people to volunteer.
Volunteering has been essential in helping me through my mental health journey.I have had the opportunity to work with service users from all walks of life. I’ve learned about other cultures and helped countless service users get their voices heard. Volunteering has helped me greatly boost my self-confidence. I was able to attend the conference and tell my story to 150 people!
I felt such a stigma at many points in my journey, so it’s very satisfying to help break down this barrier for others.
After participating in this volunteer program, I was actually able to accept a paid job to become a peer coaching worker at the trust.
This role includes seeing people who use services in a variety of locations, from attending GP practices to home visits, identifying what matters most to them and improving their health and well-being. included.
I am so grateful to have secured this role and can’t wait to help more people in the future.
Helpforce is a non-profit organization that partners with healthcare organizations across the UK to foster the growth and impact of volunteerism.
*The name has been changed
Have a story you’d like to share? Please contact us by sending an email to James.Besanvalle@metro.co.uk.
Please share your opinion in the comments below.
MORE : I found binaural beats on YouTube – they saved my mental health
MORE : New Year’s resolutions are supposed to be about self-improvement, but they’re just hurting my mental health
Details: Women improved their mental health by doing 365 new things in 365 days, like surfing and beekeeping
Volunteer Week runs June 1-7 and focuses on the amazing ways people can give back and help others. Click here to participate.