I was referred by my psychiatrist to Action Mental Health New Horizons, Derriaghy and started on 20th Jan 2016.
I had an initial meeting with the Client Development Co-ordinator. I felt afraid and extremely nervous, as I didn’t really know anything about AMH and the service it provided and I lacked confidence and self-esteem, and my social life was non-existent because my friends and family didn’t really understand ‘mental health’.
After my initial meeting, I still felt nervous but not as afraid ‘of the unknown’ because she explained everything that was on offer to me and reassured me that I wasn’t under any pressure to attend the service. I was offered various classes that I could attend and I decided to start with Confidence and Self-Esteem. When I walked into the reception area for my first class and saw people sitting there, I felt intimidated and started to doubt my own abilities, I thought:
– I have to find a seat at the back and keep my head down! (Ice-breakers really help with this).
– What am I doing here? – The other people looked so confident and comfortable.
– Will anyone recognise me? – Because I didn’t want anyone to know I came here.
– How many people are in the class? Panic….. Is this going to be like school?
– Will I have to talk? – Whoa!
— Self-doubt! —Will I be able to do this?
All of the staff made me feel at ease. I have never felt there was a difference made between staff and clients. I have always been treated as an individual and if I needed any support whatsoever, there was always time made for me, which made me feel like I wasn’t a burden; as I am not in competition with anyone at AMH.
Since starting AMH, with reassurance and encouragement, I have completed various courses in personal development such as: Confidence & Self-Esteem, Stress Management, Assertiveness, Exploring Feelings and Emotions, Learning how to Crochet and Art. These courses have been beneficial to me personally.
The most important thing to me was ‘confidentiality’ and knowing that everyone was in the same boat! I was not the only one!
I am also a member of the CLAG (Client Local Advisory Group) which promotes AMH and allows me to speak on behalf of others to improve the service that is provided. We also have a ‘buddy’ system which will help others feel less ‘afraid’!
Again with staff support and advice, I have recently started a voluntary placement at The Hospice Shop which I thoroughly enjoy as it helps me to improve my social skills and confidence even more (can I get more confident?) and hope to continue with this in the future. Without the support of AMH staff I don’t feel that I could have achieved this on my own. My future is much brighter now through attending AMH and the continued support I receive which is a major help. I have met new friends, socialise and feel that I am contributing to society and have a true sense of personal achievement. I am not afraid to be open and honest about my mental health!
Many thanks to Jennifer for sharing her story. Jennifer is taking part in the “Working It Out” project which is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020, the Department for the Economy and the five NI Health & Social Care Trusts. To find out more please click here.