As part of World Mental Health Day (10 October), Hightown Housing Association is sharing a success story of one of our service users who has overcome all the odds to obtain her Master’s degree.

Jessica who lives at one of Hightown’s care and supported housing schemes in Buckinghamshire has mental health problems, but with support from staff, she was able to complete her Masters with distinction in Medical Chemistry in 2018. She achieved this whilst going through a very challenging time in her family life and showed her resilience throughout.

A very proud Jessica commented, “I felt ecstatic after obtaining my Masters as I am finally catching up with where I was before I became poorly.”

With a Master’s degree under her belt, Jessica has now set her sights on obtaining a PhD. She is currently in the process of organising this with the Open University and Cambridge University and hopes to start her course in Bioinformatics in January 2020.

Jessica moved into supported housing for people with severe and enduring mental health in 2013. Since then her self-confidence and independence have improved over time and she has proven that you can be successful despite your circumstances, especially when you have the right support and people on your side.

Upon her arrival at Hightown’s supported living service in Princes Risborough, Jessica was very unstable, but with help from staff, she has come a long way and is trying new things such as going on holiday and volunteering with St John Ambulance. Jessica is also a very talented musician and plays the flute, harp and piano.

Reflecting on her time with Hightown, Jessica said: “Supported housing saved my life when I was unwell. It’s helped me manage my mental health and has given me a step on the ladder back to independence. There is always someone to turn to if I’m struggling. When I have a wobble or an episode, staff are on hand to give me the extra support I need. Staff have put in a support plan to help me with the things I struggle with. Without this, I wouldn’t be able to live in the community.”

Supported housing has enabled Jessica to take steps toward achieving her goals. Jessica has been able to avoid hospital admission for four years now and said, “I couldn’t have done it without the support from staff.”

Scheme Manager, Joseph Nyamapfene, said:

“Since Jess moved to our service, she has gained a lot of confidence. Through structured support, she has managed to develop skills that have improved her quality of life significantly and made it possible for her to reach for her goals. Jess is now outgoing, mostly independent in managing her flat, and very active. The positive changes in Jess’ life make me feel proud of the work we do as a service. It also encourages me and the team to work even harder to keep on making positive changes to the people we support.”

Sebastian Moh, Head of Care and Supported Housing in Buckinghamshire, said:

“Jess’ story is an amazing one and thankfully not an isolated one within our mental health services. We are truly proud of the independent strides and achievements all our residents are making within our supported living services. These positive outcomes are both a testament to the resilience of people we support, as well as the staff teams that have created an environment that fosters personal growth.”