Samantha’s Story

Samantha has been working with SAMH for just over two years but has been supported by SAMH for five years. Here she shares her experience with SAMH as a client and now as an employee. 

I have experienced poor mental health for many years and had support, on and off, from a CPN (community psychiatric nurse), and I am still accessing support from the mental health team today.  

The reason I originally reached out to SAMH was due to the sudden loss of my partner - nearly nine years ago. I thought I was coping, emotionally and physically, but at his anniversary my mental health took a further dip. I was struggling, particularly within my work in the health care sector, where I had worked for 25 years in various roles, including senior roles. But with so much change personally I felt I needed to step away. I tried a few other roles, but my mental health continued to deteriorate.  

It was at this point I moved to be closer to my daughter and her young family to offer support as a mum and a gran, and not long after that we went into lockdown. After another stretch working back in health care, I picked up an injury and ended up off sick. My CPN and I recognised my job and the impact of my injury was affecting my mental health and she referred me to the SAMH IPS service for support in finding new employment. I’d been referred to the SAMH Gateways service previously, immediately following the sudden passing of my partner. However, I was not ready for this, I was not in the right frame of mind and not ready for that type of support at that time. 

Meeting Rosie in the IPS team was different. She offered a one-to-one, person-centre- approach. I felt welcomed, important, listened to and didn’t feel like it was a tick box exercise like I had been experiencing with other mental health professionals. Rosie met me at my lowest, emotional and anxious, but she helped me search for jobs and supported me with my IT skills. Most importantly, she helped me look for opportunities that I would enjoy, avoiding the pressurised environments that I wanted to step away from.  

Through it all, I felt I was given a choice. Rosie offered information for me to take on board and allowed me to make my own decision but was always ready to talk and listen. A particular example was when a bereavement group had become available in the area, and Rosie asked if I would be interested in trying it out. My CPN had advised no to this previously, but Rosie had given me the choice which allowed me to make my own decision, and to go with how I was feeling. That was the best thing ever. I attended and listened to how bereavement can take many forms, like family breakdowns as well as loss, let me reflect. It helped me a lot, listening to others going through it. For the first time, I started to process the loss of my partner, but also to explore the impact of other loss in my life, like my mum.  

SAMH IPS service not only was helping me find employment, it was also signposting me to wider things in my community to help with my mental health. Rosie saw me as more than someone just needing employment, she saw me as a person, and went above and beyond to help. The programme helped with mock online interviews and took tension away from me, as my mental health was still low. As someone who has always worked, being out of work was difficult, so having this service guide me through it all helped me manage a situation that could have become overwhelming.  

I had been applying for jobs when Rosie shared an opportunity to work as a Peer Support Practitioner at SAMH. The thought of being able to use my own mental health experiences to help others really appealed to me. IPS still supported me as I applied, and even after my successful interview, with updates on how I was coping and a shared meeting at the start with my new manager.  

Working as a Peer Support Practitioner was the most enjoyable role I have held. Seeing someone come in very anxious and unsure, and then seeing them leave relaxed and calm, knowing I had supported them. You can see the difference, and I knew I was doing my job being a listening ear, helping to signpost just as I had experienced. It felt good to know I had played a part, no matter how small.  

Don’t underestimate the power of hope. Getting back into employment, and especially working for an organisation like SAMH, helped improve my own mental health. I love the positivity board we had in the service, which asked everyone who came in to capture a positive thought. For me, it's: tomorrow is a fresh start, focus on a positive, no matter how small. I do this every day. 

After a few powerful months working in the IPS team I applied, all by myself, for a full-time role with the SAMH Gateways team. I am now a Gateways Facilitation Worker, which was a real full circle moment and another new experience for me.  

My mental health is in a good place, better than it has ever been, and that is because of what I have learned through SAMH. I arrived at SAMH broken, but I am so much stronger.