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Opening the door – working with mental health

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Posted on 18th May 2018.

“Leaving the house, closing the front door and walking down the street all seem the most normal and quite natural of tasks for most people,” writes visiting carer Amy from Plymouth. “However, for some people, there are unseen conditions that prevent these very simple tasks.”

Amy supports people with mental health

Amy supports people with various needs and requirements including those living with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar, and who require additional emotional support.

For Mental Health Awareness Week, she shares an idea of what it’s like to support someone living with a mental health condition and how the experience has taught her more about these conditions than she thought possible.

Read about Amy’s experiences about helping people affected by mental health.

Providing one-to-one support

Before Amy joined Helping Hands as a carer, she was always aware of the term ‘mental health’. Growing up, however, she feels there was less awareness about the impact mental health has than there is today.

“Mental health wasn’t talked about as such within school or in the various media platforms,” Amy explains. “And if it was, quite often a stigma was attached and portrayed in a light I didn’t think I would grow to learn about as I do today.

“Within the home care Plymouth branch at Helping Hands, I work as the main carer for various customers,” she adds. “All of them deal with different mental health conditions. From building trust and learning about what makes the person them, it helps me understand who they are and that means more than just the ‘condition’.

“From learning about the individual and the condition, it allows me to adapt the care I give to fit their lifestyle and to help them smile,” she continues. “As one of my customers has said to me previously ‘I feel normal when I’m with you!’”

Amy adds that it’s often the smallest acts which make a significant difference for her customers. These, she says, can be “going for walks, shopping for everyday essentials, or even just sitting with a cup of tea and having a conversation.”

“Working with mental health is more than just going in to the house,” Amy continues. “It’s about reassuring them they’re not alone in the world and that someone cares for them. That plus much more.”

“All I can say to all these individuals is thank you,” she adds, clearly moved by the experiences she’s had with her customers. “You have taught me more about the struggles of mental health more than anyone could ever teach me in a classroom.”

Increasing awareness of mental health

Campaigns by leading charities such as Mind and Samaritans, as well as support from celebrities and leading figures, have put mental health more into the spotlight, however there is still a lack of understanding about exactly how it affects people in their day-to-day lives. More troubling, the ‘stigma’ Amy describes still exists and many people find it hard to seek help as a result.

Each year, Mental Health Awareness Week, run by the Mental Health Foundation, aims to break down that stigma and explain to people the very real impact of mental health. This year’s topic asks the question, “are we coping?” with stress and how we can take small steps to handle the stresses of modern living before we become overwhelmed.

You’re never alone

For anyone affected by mental health, Amy has some inspiring words. “If there is anyone reading this that lives with a form of mental health, you’re all amazing,” she says. “You’re brave for getting out of bed and doing the simple tasks such as getting dressed.”

Amy also hopes that her experiences with her customers will encourage people to be more aware of the people around them and how they might be feeling. Her experiences have also encouraged her to strive for even greater mental health awareness.

“If you could spare just one minute to talk about mental health with a family member, friend or work colleague, then you will be increasing the awareness of mental health,” she explains. “One in four people live with some form of mental health ‘illnesses’. You’re not alone.”

If you’d like to find out more about how Helping Hands can care for individuals living with mental health conditions, take a look at the varying degrees of care we can offer.

Cleo Canning