With Time to Talk Day taking place in February, Crossroads Care Peer Support Worker Michaella Ramini speaks to us about a new initiative to support people looking after loved-ones experiencing severe mental health issues

What is this new mental health initiative?

I joined Crossroads Care almost a year ago taking up a position as a Peer Support Worker for a brand-new NHS initiative called the Community Mental Health Transformation Programme. It focuses on early intervention, services historically coming too late, and addresses the challenges often faced by people with severe and enduring mental health conditions, and their carers.

It has been developed to reduce waiting times and the number of people going into crisis.

What does your job involve?

I get referrals from the NHS for people who have been identified as carers and are experiencing mental health issues, often as a result of their caring responsibilities. I then meet with the carer regularly, providing tailored support and linking them up with other appropriate services. The best thing about my job is seeing clients experience a sense of relief and hope that there really is help out there for them.

What kind of help is out there?

One example is a client of mine whose husband has severe depression. When she first came to see me, the couple weren’t receiving any help. I was able to direct the husband to receive some peer support too and he is now having counselling which has been very positive for him. I help clients become involved in different well-being services, be that a walking group or self-care group, ensuring that they do not become socially isolated which often exacerbates their problems.

How do you encourage clients to get talking?

Clients come into meetings with me knowing that I’m someone who is there to listen, that this is a space in which they can unload their concerns. Often, they don’t have the opportunity to speak about their emotions and struggles, so they open up quite readily.

What’s it like working for Crossroads?

I feel extremely fortunate to have this role as it coincides with my caring nature. I’m currently in my third year of a psychology degree and eventually want to work as a psychologist. Crossroads is an exceptional employer, looking after the needs of its staff brilliantly with things like a well-being package which includes regular stress-relieving therapies such as massage. Crossroads is a great place to work.