How I became a Mental Health Nursing Student

With mental health reporting on the rise and an increased call to encourage more people to talk about their mental health, MyHerts spoke to final year Mental Health Nursing Student, Shane Paizee, about his experiences and how he came to study at the University.

Shane worked for the Corps of Royal Engineers in the British Army for over seven years. During that time, he witnessed a lot of people suffering with mental health issues and found that almost everyone was affected by it, just in different ways. He said;
“The army is an unnatural environment. You have to eat, sleep, work and think differently. That can take its toll on people.”
Shane explained that mental health issues were not highlighted in the army, and fellow engineers never spoke about their thoughts; “I think many people saw it is a weakness and were afraid to speak up about it.”
Shane’s close friends in the army suffered with serious mental health problems, and whilst counselling was available almost no one took advantage of it and kept their emotions and thoughts bottled up; “I saw some really harrowing things happen to my friends and in the field of work, and I started to see that I was becoming someone I didn’t recognise anymore.”
Whilst these things were happening in the army, Shane did not want to speak badly about his job, he just realised that it wasn’t for him anymore; “I needed a change and to get a better routine. My mind wasn’t getting intellectually challenged anymore and I wanted to go and grow my knowledge and do something different.”
This was the turning point for Shane, and he decided to look to education for some answers. He saw the Mental Health Nursing course at the University of Hertfordshire and knew this was the course for him; “It was something I wanted to know more about. Something that could explain the things I had seen happen to people. And something that could maybe help me to go back to my friends and help them.”
So in 2017, Shane started his journey at Herts. He has found the course interesting and said that it has helped him to better understand people and how to communicate with them.
The course gives students the essential skills to make evidence-based interventions and provide care, while respecting and valuing aspiration of individuals with mental health challenges. Students learn through seminars, case studies and lab sessions and spend half of their time on placements in clinical settings. Shane has really enjoyed the opportunity to go on placements and said that they have helped him to put the theory of the classroom into practice – which can be very different things;
 “It is a really interesting course, but it is also really challenging. The course definitely isn’t for everyone. It can sometimes tire you out mentally and physically with something I call personal/passion fatigue. You have to check in with your own mental health as much as you do with others.”
The most important thing Shane has learned and wants to share with others, is to always put yourself in other people’s shoes and to take the time to understand a person’s situation and help them to talk about their mental health. 

Shane’s journey to helping others with their mental health is inspiring, and there are so many ways to help spread the message and break the stigma.
For additional information about the Mental Health Nursing Course visit the University’s website. And if you want to talk to someone about how you are feeling, get in touch with the student wellbeing team or the Students’ Union.


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