What can help
What can help

Storytelling is one of the foundations of our culture. We can create connections by sharing stories – especially those that offer inspiration and hope. Recovery in mental health is not always well understood; sharing your story makes personal recovery come alive. It also supports values and strengthens lessons learned from life experiences. It helps to build community and create connections.

You can find lots of inspirational stories; use the search bar at the top to find stories relevant to you. To return to this page after a search, please press the back button in your browser.

Alternatively if you are a registered student and would like to write your story and want to share it, please contact us. You can read about other students experiences on our testimonials page and learn more about getting involved on our student development programme page.

Life Long Learning

Expert by Experience
01 June 2022

Life Long Learning

I am an Expert by Experience for the College, with mental health challenges and a Neurological condition. Having started but not completed a degree due to tragic family circumstances, I’ve always felt something was missing but I’ve not had the confidence to commit to trying a higher course again, despite having done many short courses. These have been courses purely for fun, for work, and to improve my confidence: a TV Presenting training course, a Microsoft Excel course, and a macaroon-making class to name a few!

Most have improved my mood and confidence in the area, and a few years ago I started the College’s classes as a student: these made a significant difference to my mental health and as I grew, I started on the Student Development Programme enabling me to more involved in the College. Since then, I have been part of co-production sessions, helping to create new courses. I have also been the Class Assistant on courses such as Self-Compassion and Art Journaling from which I have learned a lot. 

In September, I was signposted to the opportunity to complete a Level 3 Education and Training course with Oaklands College. I thought it would be a great opportunity to gain further knowledge about teaching for my voluntary role at New Leaf, so I applied to the funders and was accepted. So, I began the 11-week course. At the time though I didn't fully understand that Level 3 meant it was A-Level standard, something I hadn't done for years, and I experienced a real learning curve!

About halfway through I began to feel overwhelmed by the amount of homework and had doubts about carrying on; it was also a difficult time where my partner’s mental health was declining, and my cat needed emergency eye surgery. I reached out to the tutor and we talked about how I was feeling, and she offered solutions to take some of the pressure off. This meant I was able to carry on and focus on the ‘Microteach’ to solely deliver a 30-minute lesson putting into practice what we had learned on the course, most importantly inclusivity and meeting people’s individual needs. I chose my subject to be how ‘Upcycling’ and creativity sustain our own mental health. This included a practical part where students made their own bug hotels which they found fun. It was a tricky morning, having been fatigued from a seizure the night before, but I delivered it and had some very good feedback from my tutor and other students. After that, I was able to complete the rest of my outstanding work and finish the course.

Completing the course has shown me that I can apply myself to intense study again and overcome obstacles. The tutor demonstrated everything we were being told a good teacher should be, she was incredible and I’m so grateful for her supporting me and increasing my confidence.  

It was through being involved as an Expert by Experience with New Leaf College that I found out about this rewarding course which I am very grateful for.

Since starting the Level 3 Education and Training course I have been the Expert by Experience co-facilitator on three courses, which gave me the opportunity to put some of my newly learned skills into practice. I am on a journey to become more rounded and this course, along with the College, is helping me to achieve this. Whether you take a course or learn through life’s many experiences, remember that we really never do stop learning.

For more information about our how to become an expert by experience please visit our student development programme page. Join our learning for wellbeing course to discover more about how you can incorporate learning into your life to improve your mental health and wellbeing.