On the first day of her course, Mandy pledged to ‘inspire those who have lost hope’. Reflecting on this promise helps her remain focused on becoming the nurse she wants to be.
I can clearly recall my first day as a student mental health nurse. In particular I remember being handed a blank piece of paper and an envelope and being invited to write down what I hoped to achieve during my three year journey at Keele university.
I pondered for what seemed like ages.
Was this a trick question to weed out those students who, like me, felt a bit overwhelmed and unworthy of being chosen to study?
Finally, my ‘eureka’ moment dawned and I carefully scribed my response which was, “to inspire those who have lost hope”.
“On reflection, this powerful statement was written with a degree of naivety”
On reflection, this powerful statement was written with a degree of naivety but putting it on paper galvanised my motivation to learn and kept me focused on my fledgling goal of supporting those whose lives are seemingly without hope to believe in a future.
Prior to starting university I sought inspiration from the books by Viktor Frankl, the holocaust survivor, who was instrumental in igniting hope among his fellow prisoners of war at a time when hope seemed inconceivable.
I was fascinated to learn how to rekindle someone’s will to live during such desperate circumstances when death must have seemed a welcome escape. Two years on and Frankl remains my inspiration when I seek ways of supporting people to choose recovery after experiencing mental health problems.
“Frankl remains my inspiration when I seek ways of supporting people”
I have learned that we all have reasons to live; be it our family, our children, pets, work colleagues, our faith, a hobby, our home, even memories.
It is about unearthing these positive sources and enabling people to visualise them, especially when their vision is clouded by despair and despondency.
This is what I am learning to do and will continue to do for the entirety of my career as a mental health nurse. I watch, I listen, I reflect and then analyse in the hope of improving my ability to support people to recover.
It is about developing creative ways of tapping into a person’s coping resources and discovering what they have done previously. What has been successful for them in the past in helping to overcome problems? Unwittingly, we can be powerful sources of inspiration by empowering people to identify their own solutions.
“What has been successful for them in the past in helping to overcome problems?”
Understanding that we all have resilience from overcoming adversity and being reminded of our own personal value and self-worth is reassuring, particularly at times when we hold negative views.
A milestone in my learning journey was becoming aware of how to connect with people. In order to inspire people I find it therapeutic to invest time in myself to discover my needs, dreams and ambitions. Those intrinsic things help me stay focused in order to give my ‘all’ in what is a demanding and challenging degree course.
Understanding myself and reflecting on my own personal values, my strengths and also my ‘achilles heels’ has helped me to consider myself, sometimes warts and all! This has helped me to become more intuitive when forging therapeutic relationships with the patients I have the privilege of meeting.
Mandy Mould is in her third year studying mental health nursing at Keele University