One story tells another story
For several years I received psychiatric and GP treatment, support and care for Panic Disorder and Depression, alongside a mental health charity worker. With the correct medication for me and the charity support, I found my feet and settled into life as a Publican, managing the best way I knew how.
When I entered fatherhood, I realised I wanted a change of career. My experience growing up as a child to parents who ran a working mans club, informed my decision; this was not the upbringing I wanted for my child.
I had been a full time dad for a year when I secured a position as a support worker with those living in supported accommodation. I realised I wanted to offer others the support I had experienced.
There was a particular tenant I worked with, who by his very way of being and my experience supporting him, led me to become an advocate. This is his story:
Being able to ride his motorbike was essential for him to feel ‘normal’ about his life. This literally was his lifeline. His drivers licence needed to be renewed every three years due to his mental health, which required his psychiatrist’s signature. She said she was not going to sign, based on; as a young nurse she worked in A & E, and witnessed the results of many bike crashes, therefore bikes are dangerous. This was not his usual psychiatrist; at a later appointment with his long standing family GP, he (GP) acknowledged his firm belief, that the usual psychiatrist would have been happy to sign the licence renewal as the tenant has been compliant with his medication, has not experienced any relapses and has never crashed his bike.
The GP said he could sign the licence. He also said he would write to the psychiatrist expressing his unhappiness with her decision.
The joy this tenant felt at the support he had received from me, by attending the appointments with him and promoting his autonomy resulting in his GP signing the licence renewal, prompted him to come into the office to tell my colleagues how much my support had helped him. Because I was being my natural self, I did not realise the impact my support would have on another, although it felt great to hear.
I was struck by the locum psychiatrist who made her decision based on her experiences and not the individuals.
From this piece of work, my area manager explained to me what advocacy is, that this had been a great example of advocacy and informed me of a part time IMHA role based in Broadmoor Hospital, which she encouraged me to apply for.
I now work in Broadmoor as a full time qualified IMHA, having done so for approximately six years, thoroughly enjoying supporting others with their rights under the MHA.
That is my story.