WHEN you feel at your lowest and that there’s no way out, support from mental health services can often be the difference between life and death.
And it’s a challenge Charlie Sweatman faced when she started going to the Parkway Centre, in Leigh Road, Havant, a service run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.
There Charlie met Andie Harbourne, a mental health support worker, who was crowned winner of the Mental Health Worker/Team of the Year category at this year’s Best of Health Awards.
Holding back tears as she collected her award, she said: ‘Thank you. I was totally taken aback.
‘It was a privilege just to be nominated and I can’t believe I won.
‘I have worked in adult mental health services 20 years and I love my job, it’s an absolute privilege to work with the people I do.
‘I would never have imagined being nominated for an award, let alone winning it.
‘I could not believe it and I’m utterly touched to have won – thank you so much.’
Nominating Andie, Charlie said: ‘For a few years I went to a community support group that was run by Andie.
‘She is a remarkable person.
‘Andie always had time to listen to me and the rest of the group.
‘She remembered events coming up in all of our lives, she believed in us and picked out strengths that I never saw in myself and she motivated me to gently try new things and open new doors.
‘She gave us techniques to manage things coming up in our lives and she provided things for us to do at groups to help us move forward from where we were.’
Charlie added: ‘I have been discharged now but I would not be where I am today if I had not gone to the groups she ran each week.
‘Andie has a way about her that makes you feel you are important and valued.
‘She has a cracking sense of humour and just being with her is like a breath of fresh air. I once went to her group contemplating suicide but just half an hour with her turned things around.
‘I would love Andie to know how amazing she is and what a huge difference she has made to many lives.’
Runner-up in the category was Joel O’Beirne, an adult mental health support worker, and Samantha Wilkinson, community psychiatric nurse for Solent NHS Trust.
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