Mental Health Learning

Rachel turns her life around with mental health qualification

10 April 2012

After years of battling mental illness, Rachel Carter turned her life around with City & Guilds qualifications in Mental Health.


When Rachel Carter was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 22, she was starting a chapter of her life that would see her in and out of hospitals for the next 11 years.

‘I couldn’t form friendships and my social skills weren’t very good,’ says Rachel. Now she is on the way to completing a degree in social work, having already gained her City & Guilds Levels 2 and 3 Certificates in Mental Health.

The turning point came in 2004 when doctors prescribed a new form of medication. ‘It turned my life around. Now I can hold down a full-time job as a support worker for people with learning difficulties and do my degree in social work as well.’


Back to education

After starting her new medication, Rachel’s thoughts turned to learning. ‘The City & Guilds courses gave me a vast knowledge of mental-health illnesses.’

However, going into education after years of illness was not easy. ‘At first it was daunting going to a big college with lots of people,’ recalls Rachel. ‘There were a few people on the course who were mental-health service users like me, so I felt comfortable, and made a lot of new friends.’

Completing her Community Mental Health Level 3 award made Rachel realise she had a passion for helping others with mental-health illnesses. This led her to begin a degree in Social Work at University Centre Grimsby. Now she balances her part-time degree with a full-time job helping adults with learning difficulties.


Future career

Now well on the way to completing her degree, Rachel feels that education has given her a great opportunity for a future career. ‘I’m really proud that I’ve got these awards under my belt,’ says Rachel. ‘A few years ago I would never have dreamt that I’d be where I am now.’

Perhaps more than anything else, Rachel’s journey shows how education has improved her quality of life. ‘I’ve just bought a house, I’ve got a new partner and I’m back at work,’ comments Rachel. ‘It’s amazing what education can lead to.’


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