Working in MH, as someone with a history of bad MH

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dewey

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Has anyone worked with people with mental health problems, despite having a history of mental health?

Did it takes its toll on you?

I am considering doing work to help others with MH problems as I find I have gained a fair bit of knowledge and experience through my own suffering. I can put this to good use if I try to help others in similar situations. I would be able to have training to help me set boundaries. But I am concerned if my empathy will be too much and I will get "second hand trauma" and I will be too sensitive to handle it.

Anyone wish to share their experience?
 
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natalie

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Hi Dewey,

Strangely, I was wondering the same thing for me, in terms of volunteering. In t his field.

However, there might be borough and mental health politics involved here, because I was oriignally a paitient, and it might not be such a clever path to go on. So I am personally steering clear.

As long as you work within the 16 hour capacity, off course it's up to you what you will decide on eventually, I would sound out the amount of hours which require you to help, and how many days a week, and see whether if you could with with supervision aside. So that you might be able to report to them, if you are finding the amount of work too much for you and you then, as you say, might not be able to manage.

I do wish you all the best for this, and if you have a start up with this, do let us, know how you'll get on.


Best Wishes.
 
daffy

daffy

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My friend suffers quite badly with bipolar but is highly intelligent and after having a good career she had 9 years off work with MH problems. Through the hospital she was offered the position of MH rehabilitation officer. For the next six years it almost broke her . She was constantly in and out of hospital all that time until in the end they retired her thru I’ll health.
She found the strain of taking on others problems just too much for her. It’s now two years since she was retired and has not had one hospital admission.
I would think very seriously before embarking on such a career. Maybe try one of the other caring professions ..
 
LizBo

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Hi @dewey and @natalie 🖐

I worked full-time in a psych hospital as a Diversional Therapist; this included a large detox unit as well.

What I found most difficult was being triggered by people's stories. My own history of violence and abuse was still a bit raw back then, so learning to identify when to walk away to protect myself was a priority.

Once, I was found curled up on the floor in the fetal position shaking and sobbing. That event told me it wasn't the place for me, even though I loved my job and believed in what I was doing.

Sometimes triggers come from an invisible part of us that hasn't yet found its voice. Self awareness is crucial for success.
 
D

dewey

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Hi Dewey,

Strangely, I was wondering the same thing for me, in terms of volunteering. In t his field.

However, there might be borough and mental health politics involved here, because I was oriignally a paitient, and it might not be such a clever path to go on. So I am personally steering clear.

As long as you work within the 16 hour capacity, off course it's up to you what you will decide on eventually, I would sound out the amount of hours which require you to help, and how many days a week, and see whether if you could with with supervision aside. So that you might be able to report to them, if you are finding the amount of work too much for you and you then, as you say, might not be able to manage.

I do wish you all the best for this, and if you have a start up with this, do let us, know how you'll get on.


Best Wishes.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

I wouldn't worry about being previously a patient, why does that concern you?
 
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dewey

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My friend suffers quite badly with bipolar but is highly intelligent and after having a good career she had 9 years off work with MH problems. Through the hospital she was offered the position of MH rehabilitation officer. For the next six years it almost broke her . She was constantly in and out of hospital all that time until in the end they retired her thru I’ll health.
She found the strain of taking on others problems just too much for her. It’s now two years since she was retired and has not had one hospital admission.
I would think very seriously before embarking on such a career. Maybe try one of the other caring professions ..
Interesting story, thank you for sharing. I am sorry that it took such a toll on your friend. Sounds like it can be draining to almost re-live some of the old issues you work yourself out of. A step backwards indeed, sadly.
 
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dewey

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looking after yourself is a priority if you go for it, only take on what you can cope with :hug:
You're 100% right. Thank you midnight. I wouldn't go into it without SERIOUSLY thinking it through. I just think it would be nice to be able to put to good use some of what I have learnt and some of the empathy I have gained. Sometimes I think some mental health professionals don't really care because they haven't been there so they don't know how bad it gets.
I think megirl has managed to make a successful life out of helping others despite having her own mh problems.
 
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dewey

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Hi @dewey and @natalie 🖐

I worked full-time in a psych hospital as a Diversional Therapist; this included a large detox unit as well.

What I found most difficult was being triggered by people's stories. My own history of violence and abuse was still a bit raw back then, so learning to identify when to walk away to protect myself was a priority.

Once, I was found curled up on the floor in the fetal position shaking and sobbing. That event told me it wasn't the place for me, even though I loved my job and believed in what I was doing.

Sometimes triggers come from an invisible part of us that hasn't yet found its voice. Self awareness is crucial for success.
Thank you for sharing your story, it has been eye opening.
I presume you left the profession then?
 
midnightphoenix

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You're 100% right. Thank you midnight. I wouldn't go into it without SERIOUSLY thinking it through. I just think it would be nice to be able to put to good use some of what I have learnt and some of the empathy I have gained. Sometimes I think some mental health professionals don't really care because they haven't been there so they don't know how bad it gets.
I think megirl has managed to make a successful life out of helping others despite having her own mh problems.
whatever you decide, we love you here dewey :hug:
 
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Jules5

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I use to work in Mental Health and it destroyed me. I was such a vocal advocate fro services to be provided-the money was there but they were not using it for the clients. People sat around on their arse and collected a paycheck at the clients expense-drove me nuts I us to throw up and have horrible panic attacks I was way to personally involved.

Be careful You never know until you try just have a back up plan so you do not fall apart. Make a concious decision that you may have to quit and this is totally okay. Lots of love and hugs
 
LizBo

LizBo

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Thank you for sharing your story, it has been eye opening.
I presume you left the profession then?
Yes; it's like Kenny Rogers sang - you gotta' know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to run. lol

I changed my career path to the disability sector. 15 yrs later I'm retired but am still hanging out to 'give'.
 
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dewey

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I use to work in Mental Health and it destroyed me. I was such a vocal advocate fro services to be provided-the money was there but they were not using it for the clients. People sat around on their arse and collected a paycheck at the clients expense-drove me nuts I us to throw up and have horrible panic attacks I was way to personally involved.

Be careful You never know until you try just have a back up plan so you do not fall apart. Make a concious decision that you may have to quit and this is totally okay. Lots of love and hugs
I am so pleased to hear you were an advocate for the services, it sounds like terrible corruption and it is totally draining to be in that position. I can see why that would have been so damn frustrating.

I agree, I won't know if I can cope until I try, and it is very wise to say I need a back up plan.
 
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dewey

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Sounds like a lot of people have found working in the mental health services too much, given their own issues. I wonder if it is just too much for someone who knows what it's like. I guess we are sensitive and get triggered.

Having said that I know of great therapists who have been through shit, and worked it all out, learnt stuff about the mind, understood themselves and others through learning, and learnt proper coping skills.
 
write

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Would definitely be cautious from my own experience. The worst things were :the stigma and lack of understanding by some, about mh in mh services, yes really, huge. Lack of support - couldn't access cmht input while working in local services, being treated with suspicion by staff who had previously treated me.
It didn't work out for me. Is a shame though, feel services would be better with more staff who have been through mh stuff themselves... Definitely recommend seeking out support routes, mentoring etc.
 
vanish

vanish

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I think if it’s your calling to work in a peer support role, the go for it. Just allow a lot of time for self care and be aware when you need to take breaks or debrief with a supervisor. Yes, you will have to be aware of vicarious trauma as a result of hearing some horrific things, but provided you are provided with appropriate debriefing and peer support yourself, it isn’t impossible to work in the field.
 
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Zoe1

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my history with this
is that I did a foundation counselling course once
and the effect on me was devastating
I have sometimes found this even as a peer in mental health
just as a fellow client
someone will launch without warning
into their deepest darkest stuff
that I wasnt ready for

and they clearly were not getting the help that they needed ...

I then tried helping people on the internet like we do here
this was about 10 years ago
and that didnt work out either

so I thought id better mix with people who are well
which I did , but with a feeling that something is missing

and now I seem to be able to read anything on this forum
and quite often I reply to threads
and its not affecting me at all

so what this says to me is that we have to be ready
and that can take years
and also involves us having other interests
so we are not thinking about mental health all the time


:grouphug:
 
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