OTR Blogger | 9th February 2017

OTR Life – Why am I a mental health practitioner?


WHY Mental Health?!

Over the past week I’ve been asked by various people – parents and young people – why I am a mental health practitioner. It got me thinking.

Part of our work involves setting goals, asking questions like:

What are your interests? What would you like to do when you finish school?

Since I’m the one asking the question it’s understandable when people ask it right back! But if I’m honest, I always find it difficult to answer myself.

When I was in school I thought I was destined to be a P.E teacher. I’m not sure if it was because I love playing sport or the fact that my awareness of different careers was limited.

But in my final year I got the opportunity to fundraise for a trip to Romania to work some of the poorest families there. On that trip I witnessed the true hardships of life; limited food, no safe housing, loan sharks, no education and so on. These communities continued to show resilience, hope and love despite such abject poverty and I saw first-hand that strength could be sourced even in the darkest of storms.

For three years whilst I was studying for my degree, I worked with a young person with anorexia. Two months before I graduated the family finished my contract because she had gotten through the toughest part and was able to manage alone. She did awesome!

After seeing the incredible progress she made I wondered if I’d be able to have any long term impact supporting young people and advocating on behalf of their emotional and mental wellbeing.

Besides that, I just love working with young people and building new relationships. I like the humour, the presence and the creativity – even if it is amidst crisis and chaos.  

Yes, there are skills, courses, techniques and many other things that helped me get here, but if you boil it right down it’s about the relationship. Often the relationships we form are just as special for us as practitioners, as well as for young people.

Many of the young people we work with aspire to work in health care, psychology and nursing. Having built relationships with professionals; developed communication, trust, self-reflection, and empathy, I know many of these young people will kick ass at it!

If you would like to hear a little more about how building relationships is at the core of our work here at OTR, check out our Chief Exec Simon’s newest blog on OTR’s mission – it’s pretty exciting stuff