A Mentors Story
In the summer of 2017 an old school friend took his life, I had previously volunteered supporting women struggling with mental health challenges and I was determined to go back into supporting others and was signposted to this life changing project.
I have been mentoring for over two years now and I believe that, unless you have experienced mental health challenges yourself, it’s hard for others to understand. I have not read from text books, I am real life proof that you can get well and lead a better life and give others hope for the future. My mental health challenges have consisted of PTSD, psychosis, misuse of alcohol, bulimia, and attempted suicide.
My mental health has now stabilised and I have not had any intervention from any professionals for a long time. I no longer take medication and have been abstinent from alcohol, which I used as a coping mechanism, for over 14 months. I am also more confident and believe in myself and also share my healthy coping strategies with my mentees.
I have adjusted my life to making it well balanced and learnt not to overload myself, this being in my family life, volunteer role and having “me time” for my wellbeing. I have felt very well supported within the project when new challenges arise and have learnt “not to hold the monkey” (other people’s responsibilities or issues) and now use a totally different approach within my own mind set.
At the beginning of this year I was offered the volunteer position supporting the Mentoring Co-ordinator and I now phone new referrals to offer them calls until they can be matched and to arrange these matches, I have facilitated match meetings and I have had a small amount of check-in’s from mentors after meetings.
I am currently supporting 3 mentees, I have set up a women mentees well-being group with another mentor which has been running for over a year and I have been involved with the ward, working alongside patients and engaging them in activities, promoting the project. Making a difference to the mentees who I support is an invaluable skill and also very rewarding to myself which makes me grow as a person as well.
Being involved with the mentoring has also enabled me to become more assertive within my role, with my own opinions and ideals now being heard, something my family and friends have noticed and commented on. I am now helping to steer this project to highlight how valuable it is, also promoting how becoming a Peer Mentor can support those with lived experiences of mental health challenges in their recovery, encouraging people to join our growing team.
This project has changed my life and enabled me to grow to the confident and happy person that I am today.