With a Smile on my Face

Lara, Mental Health Project Development Manager, is raising money for Certitude by leaping from a plane. Why? Read on, and donate here.

My initial experience of working in health and social care was, quite simply, for extra cash.

I was attending a course in Computer Studies at South Bank Polytechnic. Funds were running thin, so a friend of mine suggested registering with an agency for a little extra pocket money. My work started in homes for the elderly but I injured my back by lifting incorrectly – I was sent to work at a Mental Health Acute ward in Victoria for a couple of shifts instead.

The change in services was staggering, and I was able to delve into the world of mental health while still studying, enjoying it more so as a lucrative and interesting part-time job. It was a means to an end.

But I kept coming back. My intention was to go straight into positions within IT and computing, but the people I had met within mental health services were fascinating.

Some of the conversations I had with people, late at night on the wards, would keep me awake into the early hours. How might I be able to make their lives better?

There was a part of me that still wanted to enter the corporate world, so I applied for and completed my Bachelors Degree in Business Administration at London Metropolitan University. So, guess what my first job was? I went straight into Forensic Mental Health! I couldn’t shake it. There was something about working in mental health that made it feel like a calling, so I answered and made my commitment. I loved the industry, the people I worked with, the people I supported and the feeling I gained by watching the seeds I had sewn grow. People flourished because of how I, and others, supported them.

Another motivation of mine was my young aunty being sectioned under the Mental Health Act in 2008.

She was a Job Centre manager. Despite showing a series of classic signs, her managers and colleagues didn’t pick up on her decline before she was, finally, admitted. It was tough and traumatic for the whole family, and what made things more distressing was that she was pregnant, and her child was taken from her under the circumstances. Many years were spent in and out of psychiatric hospitals; she refused treatment or help. This experience has allowed me to appreciate and empathise with the emotions experienced from everyone involved when it comes to mental health services, from families and the people themselves to the professionals trying to help.

I want to make things better for people, and that’s why I took part in a skydive for Certitude to raise money. I developed a fear of heights soon after the birth of my last child so, when I told my friends I’d be jumping out of a plane, the vast majority of them suggested I speak with a psychiatrist! However, if can help people see light at the end of the tunnel by simply leaping from the door of a plane, I’ll do it. And I’ll do it with a smile on my face.

It was an incredible experience, the rush made my tummy do things I never knew it could do, and every second spent floating over Swindon… I’d do it all again.

Support my challenge by clicking on this link to my JustGiving page, and enjoy the photos below from the big day!