Meet Sarah, Peer Support Worker | Our blog

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Trust Blog

The Maudsley Blog

Meet Sarah, Peer Support Worker

Peer support workers draw on their own mental health issues and recovery to support service users in a variety of areas in South London and Maudsley. Peer workers share their lived experiences to inspire hope that change is possible. They also use their experiences to support service users navigating mental health services and signposting to relevant resources. Sarah, a Peer Support Worker shares her story and lived experience.

My struggle with mental illness began in my teenage years and my first inpatient admissions happened before I was sixteen. Hospital was a scary place to be in but I got the help I needed at that time. When I was in my early twenties, I had a sudden mental health relapse and found myself in and out of hospital again. I remember feeling like I had failed, and I began to give up hope on recovering. Despite having family and friends around me through my struggles with mental illness, it was the loneliest I had ever felt. At this time, I received an additional diagnosis and this helped me to understand why I was feeling the way I was.

With the help of mental health services, I found the right balance of medication, support and therapy. Being referred to the correct therapy was the best thing that could have happened to me as I learned new healthy ways of coping and I learned a lot about why my mind was working in the way it was.

I used services at South London and Maudsley in a number of ways, but my inpatient admissions were particularly helpful because it was a way of keeping me safe at times I couldn’t keep myself safe at home.

During my recovery journey I decided that I wanted to work in mental health. I became a peer support worker after seeing the job advertised during my search for a role within the services. I saw that they were looking for people who wanted to use their lived experience to help others and I remember thinking this sounds like exactly what I want to do.

I think there’s something uniquely valuable in someone sitting beside a person struggling with their mental health and using their own lived experience to support them. Mental illness has a way of making you believe that you’re completely alone in your struggle but peer support can help to demonstrate that recovery is achievable, things can get better.

My advice to anyone struggling with their mental health would be, never be afraid to ask for help and try not to let receiving a diagnosis frighten you, because the right one can allow you to get the treatment you need. Do everything you can to learn about your own mental health because understanding more about why you’re feeling the way you are can really empower you.