Mental health awareness – a personal reflection

kirklees shared lives

Thursday 10 October, is Mental Health Awareness Day and Meg, a Shared Lives service user, shares her story of a lifetime of trauma and how the opportunity to live in a Shared Lives arrangement gave her the right support she needed.

“We need to give more people a chance of happiness, like the happiness that Shared Lives gave to me”

For 13 years of my childhood, I endured severe trauma. As a result of this, I have spent most of my life in psychiatric hospitals due to my fragile state of mind and the severity of the harm I was inflicting upon myself.

My last hospital admission lasted four and a half years where I worked my hardest in therapy, processed the traumas and came to terms with my past. I found hope and I became strong. It was time to leave hospital but no-one knew where the best for me to go was. I knew I needed to feel part of something and to be genuinely cared for, away from a clinical setting.

After many weeks of searching, I found out about Shared Lives. I took the information to my doctor and she agreed it was perfect. Before long I was matched and placed with my Shared Lives carer Hayley.

I was scared.

Hayley taught me how to cook and supported me to shop. She sharpened my road sense and showed me how to get around on public transport by myself. As well as all of this, she stood strong by my side, through my mood swings, my tears and frustration. We got through it. She’s my angel.

It’s been 22 months since I left hospital and moved into Hayley’s care and I have achieved so much.

I work in a dog grooming salon and I run a self-harm support group. I’ve been on adventures and made new friends. And in January this year, I moved into my own house independently and just receive day time support. Also it has been 14 months two weeks and six days since I last self-harmed.

Shared Lives saved my life.

shared lives image

I’m just trying to say that we need to give more people a chance of happiness, like the happiness that Shared Lives gave to me.

There are more people out there just like Meg that need the help, support and guidance from Shared Lives carers. To find out more about becoming a Shared Lives carer contact the team on 01484 221000 or email

One comment

  • barbara rushforth

    mental health is very important. Young people who do not find work should do voluntary work. Make friends, talk to people, meet for a coffee. Ladies in the maternity unit are discharged nowadays far too soon. No chance to make friend with other new mums. Old people may live alone and dont see anyone for days at a time. Often they see no-one and speak to no-one from Friday – Monday. it is vital for people to see someone, talk to someone and meet up with someone.

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