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I have always been interested in psychology and the study of human behaviour, particularly as it relates to mental illness. I did psychology both for A’ Level and for my degree, and I particularly enjoyed the aspects of the courses relating to the understanding and treatment of mental illness. When I left university in 2007 with an upper second class degree, I did consider pursuing a career in clinical psychology but decided at that stage to pursue full-time employment instead of engaging in further studies.Having worked in an office environment for a number of years, I have realised that I would prefer to be working in a more rewarding role and I believe I can find this in mental health nursing. I have a passion to provide care and support to those with mental illness, to get them to better health, and a desire to help address the stigma that is still often attached to mental illness. I have had extensive discussions with two of my friends who have undertaken nursing degrees and feel I would be energised by the challenges of the role i.e.

working long hours in a demanding setting, to tight deadlines, and in a constantly changing environment. At the end of the course I would ideally like to pursue work in a Children and Adolescent mental health services(CAMHS) unit as I have enjoyed my voluntary experience working with children and seeing the difference that positive intervention can make to their lives. I have worked for Capita for the past few years as a project management consultant within the NHS.During this time I have developed some key skills including: time and budget management, report writing; an understanding of the mental health sector, as I have worked for several mental health Trusts including Avon and Wiltshire Mental Heath Partnership NHS Trust, Devon Partnership NHS Trust and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. I have undertaken clinical planning for healthcare units and was always particularly interested in the drive to increase the efficiency and quality of care for patients.This role has given me valuable experience of working in a health care setting including mental health specialised units.

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I would now like to apply these skills to a person-centred career where the improved health of patients is the outcome. Good communication and people skills are crucial in my project management work as I am often responsible for engaging key stakeholders, ensuring they are kept informed and listening and recognising the changing needs of the project.The need to recognize the different contributions of stakeholders has also made me an effective team player. I believe this will be important in the health environment, where nurses often have to communicate with a wide range of multidisciplinary health professionals, to determine what level of care is best for a patient. I worked as a volunteer for a mental health charity for 18 months in 2010/11.

My role was to provide an advocacy service for people with a variety of mental health issues and my experience ranged from attendance at care planning meetings, to supporting people in responding to daily correspondence. This improved my ability to be professional in giving advice as I had to maintain a neutral position as an advocate and give impartial advice to mental health users whilst acknowledging their best interests. In addition, in 2011 I volunteered as a ‘befriender’ for a disabled children’s charity.This involved spending time with children with varying levels of physical and mental disability, including those with disruptive behaviour. My role was to provide entertainment, interact with the children and accompany them on outings. Both roles gave me an insight into the differing challenges that mental health patients experience and how professional and additional support can help them to lead fuller lives.

Outside of work I play Badminton which has given me the confidence to meet and interact with lots of different people and engage in a team environment.

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