My Key Worker, June Jones has given me another chance at life. I say this because leaving hospital three months ago is where a lot of hard work in my case began. Although I was well enough to leave the psychiatric unit, I still felt unsure about life. Unsure about what I had to offer and unsure whether I could deal with life and trying to live a life, two distinctly different things. I was pretty nervous as I started to re-build the building blocks of my life. I wasn’t imitating the foundation I had before I was unwell, I was building a new me. A ‘me’ that could hopefully start living again after a two month break down in hospital.
I’ve been in therapy on and off for the greater part of four years and it has certainly helped me from a practical and skills point of view. But working with my key worker (Community Psychiatric Nurse) after leaving hospital has been different. She’s caring, highly skilled and last but not least, human. And there, we have it; I’ve said it, human.
There’s no guide book that I know of that can teach humanity to a mental health professional. It’s innate. But, being ‘human’ in a mental health service is easier said than done. As a service user, I have in the past felt barriers in my relationship with some therapists. We get so far and then I hit a wall. There is of course that professional line with all MH professionals as with my key worker, but it feels different with her. We tackle big issues, we work on strategies and find answers – but we also laugh a lot about trivial things and more serious things, sometimes sharing experiences. I feel I can be completely honest with her and I know that her response will also be informed and honest. What she manages to do so skilfully is to connect on a human level and I’m convinced that connection on a human level can smash that wall I spoke of earlier. I believe that humanity and humanity in MH care has the ability to spark a different kind of recovery. A deeper level of recovery. Why? Because, it makes ’emotional’ sense in a way that CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) or DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) in all their measured ‘guidebook’ glory fail to do so, at least in relation to my own experience. A MH professional can be very competent in his/or her work, but if they lack the ability to ultimately connect on a human level their impact will, of course, be limited.
I feel so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to receive this kind of care and that I’m delving into deeper tissues of recovery than I have in quite some time. All thanks to humanity in mental health. Recovery is not easy work, it’s arduous at the best of times and it’s certainly still a case of work in progress. I still get my low weeks but I also experience much better weeks. I don’t mean to minimise the challenge of recovery by saying it’s all about humanity in MH, but I’m certain that humanity in MH improves one’s chances of long-term recovery.
It takes a brave Mental Health professional to connect to an individual on a human level; it is so much easier to offer the guidebook, objective arms length response in therapy and care. Being connected to on a human level has offered me new hope – a raw kind of hope that feels much greater than any hope I’ve previously felt. For that, I am utterly grateful. Long live the NHS and amazing Key Workers like mine!