Talking about mental illness: this is going to hurt

I want to begin with a disclaimer: I will discuss my experience with mental illness and mental health struggles, and this is very personal and subjective. It was how I felt along this difficult pathway, but I am entitled to express my voice as you are to express yours. Yes, this is going to hurt, as it may sound that nowadays we live in an open-minded society, but we still face stigma and prejudice around mental illness: We still can’t discuss it openly, as people tend to dissociate themselves from those who are hurting psychologically. Also, just because I am writing about my experience does not mean I have my life in order. I can’t pretend to know everything about mental illness and neurodevelopmental conditions, but I am trying to understand more and hopefully I will become more literate in the process.

Since I can remember I always felt slightly anxious and was considered very shy for my age, as I lack social communication and interpersonal skills. I managed to do reasonably well in school, except for my abilities with numerical thinking, and making friends, however I had a special interest for science and scientific facts. Now I know how I passed under the radar: I was able to imitate other girls and what was “socially accepted behaviours” for my age, only raising my voice when I saw the poor and unfair ways that boys treated girls during my pre-adolescence years.

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Managing Chronic Illness in Healthcare Science

About Me

Hello, my name is Hannah! I am a first year STP student on the Genomic Counselling programme, but I have almost ten years of experience in healthcare science. This includes over seven years of NHS service, predominantly as a Biomedical Scientist in Immunology.

I am a passionate advocate for mental health and practice as a Mental Health First Aider, combined with being a former Samaritans Call Volunteer and student of counselling qualifications. Whilst I gained invaluable scientific skills as an NHS Scientist, the role didn’t satisfy my desire to interact with and support patients more directly. I was familiar with the STP due to training Biochemistry students on their immunology rotations, and after much soul searching, I decided to commence my own STP journey. I felt that Genomic Counselling could bridge my interest in counselling skills with my scientific background and I was determined to gain the care experience required for my application. I managed to train as a Hospice Care Volunteer and offer emotional support as a Samaritan, alongside my Biomedical Science NHS service work.

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The Six Month Survival Guide

Hi, my names Estelle, and I’m a new co-editor here at STP perspectives. I’m currently in my first year of the Clinical Microbiology STP. My studies and work experience have all been in Microbiology and Medical Microbiology.

This blog is about how I’ve survived the first six months of the STP. It will cover:

  • What sort of challenges you might face
  • How to utilise your cohort/ colleagues to assist you
  • Some reminders to take it easy!
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Finding your feet in first year!

My name is Leanne and I am a first year biochemistry STP at Wolverhampton – something I am still getting used to saying! When I applied for the STP not one part of me thought I was going to be successful as I was fresh out of university. I decided to apply anyway for the experience, in the hopes I could eventually get onto it. Much to my surprise I was offered a place (very last minute, but that is a story for another time). From the very beginning I heard lots of mention of ‘imposter syndrome’ and I am definitely still feeling this at nearly 5 months in.
For me not only is this a new job, but also a completely new city. I don’t think I had even set foot in the West Midlands, until I came to have a look at the lab once I had been offered the position. It has been a major change for me and something I am still adjusting to. It is natural to miss home and you will have good and bad days. However, I feel extremely lucky in that I have an amazing training officer who made me feel super settled immediately.

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STP Support | New Beginnings

First things first – a belated congratulations for gaining a place on this highly competitive training scheme. This is certainly an achievement not to be ignored! You will have had a couple of months acclimatising to the training scheme and your new home. For some of you, this may be the first time you have moved away from home, for others it won’t be, but will still require you to adapt to not only a new job but a new location too. This short post will offer some first-hand tips to aid settling in, now that winter is creeping in and the dark evenings are getting longer.

Let’s take the positives

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STP Support | Keeping the balance

This post aims to volunteer some tips for managing your time and workload on the STP… which is no easy feat!! They are the personal views and experiences of a second-year trainee.

A juggling act

During the STP applications process and subsequent acceptance of a training post I was certainly expecting my new role to challenge and develop my time-management skills. However, I didn’t fully appreciate that the role would require the juggling skills of a high-level circus performer.

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STP Support | Loneliness & the STP

This week (9-15th May) is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s focus is on loneliness. According to recent figures from the Mental Health Foundation, ‘One in four adults feel lonely some or all of the time’.

Unfortunately this is something that has become a much bigger issue over the past couple of years due to Covid, and we have likely all experienced loneliness to some extent during the pandemic.

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STP Support | Navigating the STP with a Complex Mental Health Condition

This post includes the opinions & experiences of the author, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Like a lot of the people posting to this blog, I never thought I’d get onto the STP either. When I applied, I almost balked at the competition ratios. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be there, and doubly so after how I’d felt the interview went. But I did get in – to the training institution I wanted, nonetheless. And it was one of the biggest surprises of my life.

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STP Support | Introducing the NSHCS Equality, Diversity & Inclusivity Committee

This post has very kindly been written by Chanelle Peters, Chair of the NSHCS Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee

The School are working closely with the STP BAME network to ensure that all STP trainees’ views are listened to and that issues faced by trainees around Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) are discussed openly; that solutions are not only sought, but become embedded in every aspect of the STP training programme from start (recruitment or even before) to finish (exiting the programme). We commend the initiative from STP trainees to create such a forum, especially as we created our own Equality, Diversity & Inclusion one in parallel. Our aim in creating the school EDI committee was to ensure dedicated time and resources were put into the work of promoting EDI in Healthcare Science.

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STP Support | Training Support – A National School of Healthcare Science Perspective

This post has very kindly been written by Louise Ayers, Head of Programme Support at the NSHCS

So, here I am, the Head of Programme Support at the National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS), trying to write a blog post (my first one ever!) that will have meaning and purpose to trainees and training departments out there, trying to get through their programmes and further their careers in healthcare science. I want to reach out and I want to tell you how we can help and how important it is that you understand our purpose and why we do want you to talk to us when you are having problems. 

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