Specialism: The service is able to support people with learning disabilities, mental health and/or substance misuse issues to develop independent living skills,
Jayne Andrews is someone I’d describe as a ‘magician’. One of those people you work with who has the ability, personality, strength, kindness and perspicacity to make everything seem possible. She supports service users, many of whom are diagnosed with mental health issues, at three supported living services in South Wales. She has worked tirelessly over the past 15 years to make life better for people – some battling such high levels of anxiety that just walking out the front door is an ordeal.
Jayne believes the stigma associated with mental health needs to be tackled head on. She says increased awareness by the media has made an impact, but in her view there needs to be more education, particularly with many mental health issues the result of substance misuse, and drink and drug addiction. Jayne makes sure service users are directed to the relevant agencies and supports them to attend self-help meetings and group events. For instance MIND and 4Winds in Cardiff which has a variety of classes including, art, cooking, and is open every day of the year.
Addressing or overcoming mental health issues – Jayne initially tries to get a feeling for what might work best for a person. Recently one of our service users was supported to report a crime to the police. Appreciating this was causing her a great deal of distress, Jayne came up with the idea of the individual giving her account on video. Later she and the team supported the woman to attend a court hearing, spending time reassuring her while she gave evidence via a video link.
Jayne doesn’t define people by their ‘problems’, but as people first and foremost. For her, communication is the key and that it must be at a level and pace consistent with their needs. She works with service users to look at the choices open to them – helping to promote independence and respect – and also importantly makes them aware of any risks.
For Jayne a job or volunteer position is the key to building self-esteem and structure. For instance, one service user expressed a desire to work at the local Oxfam shop. With encouragement she felt confident enough to chat to the staff member on duty and ask for an application form. Jayne and the team helped her fill it in and sort out her references. She got the job and began work in November and is enjoying every minute.
Because many of service users are dealing with mental health issues Jayne makes sure she’s always up to date with the latest thinking and attends any relevant training courses. She also creates ‘little step’ plans where service users take small but significant steps towards their goals. One individual was desperate to go to college, but lacked the confidence to leave the house alone. Taking ‘little steps’ he was supported to make the journey on his own and he now attends on a regular basis and has enrolled on a GCSE maths course.
Written by Julie Davies, Locality Manager
The Mental Health Hero’s awards were announced by Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister to celebrate those from every region who have gone above and beyond to help, support or inspire people with mental health conditions.