CAMHS Volunteer Mentor
What made you volunteer for the project?
I decided to volunteer as I’d like to have varied experience in the mental health sector. Additionally, I am particularly passionate about mental health in young people. I sought out volunteer opportunities online which is how I found this opportunity. I have been a part of the programme for 10 months now. Initially you have to attend a training session before you’re paired up with a mentee. The training was incredibly insightful and accessible.
What have you learnt during this experience?
I graduated from De Montfort University in the summer of 2021 with a BSc in Psychology. I currently work as a trainee Mental Health Wellbeing Practioner (a new psychological practitioner role introduced recently by the NHS). During the mentoring journey, I was able to learn a lot about OCD and Autism, as my mentee had both diagnoses. This was an invaluable experience, as I was able to apply theoretical knowledge I have previously acquired and also learn new information, while busting the many myths surrounding OCD and Autism.
How do you think your mentee has benefited from your mentoring?
I believe my mentee gained skills to make them more confident in social interactions/settings and gained advice on how to protect their mental health as they navigate the future.
How were you able to build a relationship with your mentee?
My mentee and I discussed many things. Our main topics of discussions were politics, social justice, history and social lives. We often met at my mentee’s house, but we frequently took walks for our sessions. We found that this provided a neutral environment that allows both of us to speak candidly. We also took the time to have fun and went to the cinema too!
I checked in with my mentor regularly by text message, even if we hadn’t scheduled to meet up. We both saw it as important to be accountable and this fostered a good relationship between us. To my surprise, we shared a lot of the same interests, so we got on straight away like a house on fire! That really helped the mentoring process as we were on the same page from the start.
Why should people take part in the mentoring project?
Aside from the fact that you will gain experience to add to your CV, the mentoring experience is incredibly rewarding. You’re given the opportunity to support a young person 1:1 at one of the most crucial times of their life. I think it’s even more important because young people who need support with their mental health can often feel ostracised and alienated. It was an amazing experience for me to be able to be there for a young person and provide them with a form of comfort and to make their life that much easier.
I would absolutely recommend this programme to other mentors. The experience you will gain is absolutely invaluable. It is amazing to connect with young people and to help them realise and actualise their own potential. It is such a rewarding feeling, and I would happily volunteer again.
Aside from supporting a young person with mental health difficulties, I was able to learn so much from my mentee. They were incredibly smart and their perspective on life was refreshing and really got me thinking. It was an intriguing experience indeed.
You can find out more information on how to join the CAMHS Mentoring Project and other volunteering schemes the South London and Maudsley Trust has to offer: https://slam.nhs.uk/camhs-mentoring-project.