This Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20th May), Hightown Support Worker, Jeremy Spencer from Shamrock House in High Wycombe shares his first-hand experiences of working within a mental health service; providing practical and emotional support and working with service users towards re-gaining their independence.  

Hightown provides dedicated support for over 260 residents with mental health issues across eight supported living services in High Wycombe, Aylesbury, Princes Risborough, Hemel Hempstead and Stevenage. Service users have access to 24-hour care and support that focuses on understanding their mental health condition. 

Shamrock House contains eight shared supported living flats that have access to communal living and dining areas and six independent supported living flats for people with mental health problems, such as schizophrenia, depression, ADHD and OCD. Some service users also have a learning disability such as autism.

Jeremy Spencer, Hightown Support Worker says:

“We provide support with daily-living skills including shopping, budgeting, cleaning, cooking and looking for employment.

“Often our aim is to support people to gradually build the skills they need to live independently within the community. We’re currently supporting someone who has just signed a tenancy for their own property in the community. There is a lot of multi-agency communication and we have to work with many people such as care coordinators and medical practitioners to assist in supporting a person to become independent.

"There are a lot of myths about people with mental health problems. Many people assume that you are more likely to be violent, that it’s not possible to hold down a job or that you can’t contribute to society. This often isn’t the case and a mental health condition doesn’t define who you are or what you can achieve.

“The thing I enjoy most about my job is supporting people to build the skills and confidence to live independently, and have the quality of life that they thought they couldn’t have due to their mental health. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing you have made a positive impact on someone’s life.”

Jeremy has experienced changing attitudes towards mental health and is positive that awareness and support is improving: 

“Support for people with mental health issues has improved dramatically over recent years.

“Different therapies and new ways of supporting people have been introduced to help people cope with their condition. Staff training has also improved so care can be more specific to a person’s needs.”

At their recent staff conference, Hightown’s staff reinforced their support for mental health by voting for Mind (the mental health charity) to be their new sponsored charity.