Member Karen Bridle describes her career from occupational therapy to student mental health. Karen talks about how being able to proactively develop the service delivered has helped her stay in her role.
How long have you worked in student mental health?
How long have you been in your current role?
Can you outline your career and how you got to where you are today?
In 1996 I started as an OT assistant for the Royal Air Force working in one of their care homes. Whilst in this role I completed a 4 year in-service Occupational Therapy degree graduating in 2002. From here I completed an Occupational Therapy rotation training for 6 months in multiple hospital and community physical and mental health settings including medicine and surgery wards, A&E and day hospitals. My first senior OT post was in 2004 on an acute mental health ward in Chichester but 9 months later I moved to the Crisis and Home Treatment team where I worked for 5 years. From here I moved to the Northern Assessment & Treatment Service at New Park House in Horsham working for 8 years on & off between having my children. It was in Nov 2016 that I decided to leave the NHS and venture into higher education where I have been working for the last 5 years.
How does your experience and training help you to do your job well?
The varied roles and settings I have worked in, both in the community and inpatient settings, acute and recovery roles, have provided me with a broad skill set suited to any client group in any mental health setting. I feel confident to assess and work with any mental health issues that I come across and be able to provide a professional assessment and intervention.
Can you briefly explain your day-to-day responsibilities?
I oversee the wellbeing service, supervising members of the team, planning the delivery of services, linking with partner organisations to ensure student wellbeing needs are met. I take an active role in seeing students, normally those with more complex mental health issues where fitness to study or risk is at the forefront and ensure they get signposted to support externally for treatment or linked in with internal support if they are well enough to study. I organise training to the wider university to educate about mental health and referral process to wellbeing services.
What’s helped you to stay in your role?
Helping to change and deliver a wellbeing service that is fit for purpose for today’s demands. Being able to mould services to meet the needs of young people thus enabling them to complete their studies and have possibilities for their future.
What part has UMHAN played in this?
Providing a network of colleagues, all expert in higher education, working in the same setting, for support, training and advise. This has helped shape our service to meet the needs of students as a general population.
What’s your favourite part of your role?
Being able to think creatively in ways to meet the needs of students and working in partnership with other professionals and organisations to deliver these interventions.
What has changed in student mental health since you started your role?
The demand and expectation on our service has increased threefold. Hence needing to find new ways of working to meet this demand.
What do you think are the biggest remaining challenges?
Dealing with expectations from the students, parents and wider university on the level of service we can provide with the resources we have, especially when statutory services are so stretched and waiting lists ever increasing.