A Peer Mentor Coordinator from Wigan, who is using his own journey to help others through theirs, has been awarded Runner Up in the prestigious Mental Health Awards.
The Mental Health Awards are a celebration of outstanding and inspirational stories from across the UK and internationally.
Since 2019, organisations, services and individuals have been awarded for their relentless work toward making a difference in their communities.
Winners and Runners Up were announced during an awards ceremony on Thursday 2 November at the Dickens Inn in London.
Kieran Jones, who works at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH), has been awarded Runner Up in the ‘Inspirational Story’ category, which celebrates service users or clients who have overcome overwhelming challenges to tackle their mental health or wellbeing, or those whose lives have been affected by the mental health of others.
Kieran, from Bamfurlong in Wigan, suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, anxiety, and addiction. In February 2020, he was admitted to Atherleigh Park, a mental health inpatient unit in Leigh, run by GMMH.
“A number of years ago, I went through a traumatic experience which left me with severe, complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“I had flashbacks and nightmares which really affected me. I also suffered from depression, anxiety, and addiction.
“This caused me to lock myself away – I didn’t come out of my house for a long time, I wasn’t sleeping, and I struggled with day-to-day tasks. This peaked when I made a suicide attempt, and I knew I needed help.”
Kieran received support from GMMH’s Wigan and Leigh service as both an inpatient and in the community.
“I could learn about my mental health, find out about useful coping mechanisms, and start to get better.
“When I was discharged, they gave me lots of useful advice - from how to improve my sleep pattern, to how to have a healthier diet. These simple self-care tips really helped me to feel better, and to learn to love myself.”
Kieran started working with GMMH, when he was asked to co-chair the design group for the ‘Wigan and Leigh Living Well Service’ and now works for the service as a Peer Mentor Coordinator.
Of his recognition at the UK Mental Health Awards, Kieran said:
“To be nominated, then shortlisted to attend the national UK Mental Health Awards, from being an inpatient at Atherleigh Park five years ago is mind blowing.
“My work isn't just a job to me, it’s a passion. It keeps me in a good place mentally and this has now made me more focused and determined to work harder than ever.
“The views and feedback of the people who are seeking support from our services are so important, and we engage with Experts by Experience to co-produce our services. Recently, we have changed the language we use based on vital feedback – for example, ‘discharge’ is now a ‘friendly farewell’.
“We are starting a peer mentor transformation journey in the Wigan Borough, which will involve the development of the Peer Mentor role. We have exciting plans to recruit more Peer Mentors and Volunteers which will help us to continue to make positive change and ensure lived experience is at the heart of the work we do.
“I would like to thank my family, friends, my colleagues who are amazing, and the senior managers in our Wigan Services, because without them, none of this would have been possible.”
To find out more about the mental health support available in Wigan, visit Services in Wigan | Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS FT (gmmh.nhs.uk).