Alex on his journey to helping his peers
Alex is a peer support worker at Bethlem Royal Hospital who received peer support on his own recovery journey.
I was initially an outpatient with South London and Maudsley, being treated for depression, generalised anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). In 2018, I was admitted to hospital with psychosis. Two years later, my psychiatrist took me off my anti-psychotic medication, I suffered a relapse and was readmitted.
When I was discharged from Bethlem Royal Hospital for the second time, I was saying goodbye to a nurse I had built a good rapport with. I mentioned that I wanted to volunteer in peer support on the wards.
Working towards my goal
The nurse said ‘Yes, please come back as my colleague, not as a patient.’ This gave me a terrific incentive and goal, and then a fantastic opportunity came up to apply for a full-time position as a peer support worker at the Bethlem.
I love working on the psychiatric wards. Having a full-time job gives me responsibility and helps me prioritise staying well and recovered. I enjoy working collaboratively and helping my clients achieve their goals and play a role in their progress, it is the most rewarding achievement and one I’m very proud of.
Being on the autistic spectrum and ADHD myself, I’m able to empathise with neurodivergent service users who experience sensory overload on noisy wards, and my calm demeanour puts them at ease.
Proud to help others
The best feedback I got so far has been from the mother of a service user I was supporting, who said: ‘You can be like Alex!’
That parents consider me an example to follow is the ultimate compliment. As I maintain my personal recovery, I hope to inspire other service users to follow my footsteps to transition from someone treated to treating others like them.
Having been successfully treated by South London and Maudsley, it gives me pride to now wear a lanyard as one of their employees.
“Like many, I felt burdened by having mental illnesses, particularly with my psychosis. That I get to use my lived experience and role model recovery for other service users, is precious and invaluable to me.
“I’m living proof that dreams can come true and that a small ambition can lead to huge achievements!”