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(Contains brief mentions of suicide)

It was during her third admission to Derbyshire Healthcare’s Radbourne Unit that Rosie made a life-changing decision. 

Inspired by the nursing staff caring for her, Rosie vowed that the next time she set foot on the ward, she’d be the one wearing the uniform. 

Rosie, 23, already had a degree in Security and Offender Management and experience working with vulnerable adults and in medical response, but her time as a mental health inpatient led her to consider a new career path. 

She says: “I met some really great staff members in the Radbourne Unit. Lisa was a healthcare assistant who knew exactly how to make someone feel better about themselves. She would see the positive in most situations and that really inspired me. I will be forever grateful to her.

“And two nurses in particular were such an inspiration to me. Nom, who works nights, was fabulous. The humour and high energy she brought to the ward would lift everyone’s spirits. Nom understood me. She knew I get unsettled at night so would work with me to set little tasks to keep my brain occupied.

“Lea was amazing and would often give up her weekends to help out at the Radbourne Unit. Knowing she cared that much really inspired me.”

Rosie had already encountered Lea during a previous admission to the Radbourne Unit. 

“When I first met Lea, I was in a very low state of mind. Lea knew straight away what to do to de-escalate the situation. 

“The pride she takes in her work is beyond belief. She can be very abrupt but humorous and empathetic.”
Lea and Nom both recognised qualities in Rosie which they believed would help her become a great mental health nurse. 

“One was my work experience. Another was my own experience with mental health issues.”

Rosie has struggled with her mental health since childhood but was always reluctant to seek help. 

“I was taught from a young age to not talk to anyone about my problems or show emotions. This taught me behaviours that are hard to unlearn. I would bottle up my emotions, my trauma; everything.”

“I was holding everything in and would get defensive if any teacher or friend asked if I was okay. I guess I still do that but I am much better at being upfront about my struggles and feelings.”

Holding in her emotions began to affect Rosie’s work as emergency medical responder for a private company. 
“I witnessed some very traumatic scenes from the age of just 16 through to 19. These were so bad that I would become more and more panicky before each shift.”

Eventually Rosie left to become a support worker, a job she loved for two years until she injured her back. 

“During my time off, I had too much time to think and eventually had a massive breakdown. I was having a lot of flashbacks; I wasn’t sleeping nor was I eating very well. I felt like life was not worth living and I self-harmed frequently. The thoughts were getting more overpowering each day and led me to an attempt to take my life.”

Rosie initially contacted mental health helplines but after further attempts to end her life, and talking to the liaison team in A&E, she realised she needed more help and was admitted to the Radbourne Unit.

“It was a very hard struggle. It took me a while to be kind to myself and allow myself to get the treatment and help I needed. It took a lot of one-to-ones and group sessions to help me discover the acceptance and kindness I needed to show to myself.”

Rosie was admitted to the Radbourne Unit on two more occasions and during the most recent admission Lea and Nom planted the idea of a career change. 

“The next thing I knew, they were giving advice on cover letters and CVs for university!”

Rosie was discharged from the Radbourne Unit in July 2023 and is now in her first year of a degree in mental health nursing at the University of Derby, on her first work placement and finally wearing that nurse’s uniform. 

“After my last admission I thought ‘enough is enough’. The Radbourne had given me all the resources they could give and I needed to take accountability for my own mental health. 

“Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm do not just go away unfortunately. Acute wards are not for curing you. They teach you coping skills and emotional regulation so you can calm yourself and seek help without being a danger to yourself. With the resources I gathered, I have continued to thrive.”

Rosie firmly believes her university studies have helped her mental health.

“This is the longest I’ve been out of hospital since my first admission. I feel I haven’t struggled as much this time. Uni is really helping me to keep myself accountable for my own mental health by focusing my mind.

“I am very proud of myself because I have received some really good feedback at uni which has given me a wave of confidence. I particularly enjoy clinical skills and placement where it is hands on and busy.”

Rosie is determined to make a difference having experienced the devastation of losing two friends to mental ill health. She says their tragic loss gave her another reason to keep fighting when she felt like giving up. 

“I kept thinking, if you are ever in doubt, you should think of the people who need you to be a voice for them, as they are no longer able to be a voice for themselves.

“If I can be a mental health nurse who is anything like Lea or Nom, then I’ll be happy. I truly believe if it wasn’t for Lea and Nom I would not be where I am today. For that, I am forever grateful.

“I want to thank all of the staff at the Radbourne Unit. You are all amazing in your own unique ways and I wish you all the best.”

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