Mental Health Life Story: Charlotte

10 May 2017
A Cannock resident who has explored her own mental health through her love of poetry has inspired other poets across the town, as well as residents and staff at the support service where she lives.

Charlotte at the Supported Housing scheme.

Sanctuary Supported Living (SSL) resident Charlotte Postings, 22, had a prior love of writing, but had yet to explore poetry when she first arrived at the supported housing service 17 months ago.

Staff at the service, which supports people with mental health needs, encouraged Charlotte to develop her love of poems, which she acquired through a local support group, and to host her own poetry nights.

Now she’s sharing her story of how poetry and support helped her progress from someone surviving with mental health needs, to someone thriving on their own terms, as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 8 to 14 May.

Her first night, which was held in March at Caffe Del Nino, hosted 14 performers, with a second in April attracting 17 people reading. The events are open to everyone and have attracted artists from a wide range of backgrounds, including several from the LGBT community and one with cerebral palsy.

Charlotte said: "My poetry and spoken word nights are for anyone and everyone who wants to come and freely express themselves, but I did not foresee how popular they would be – the venue was full to the brim with people.

“Three other residents, and one member of staff, have been to and supported my poetry nights. My night even inspired one of the residents to write her own poem. The staff have also started talking about having a poetry corner/residents corner in the communal lounge where we can put up some of our own work.”

SSL support worker Caron Hughes added: “It’s been wonderful to see Charlotte’s progress with her poetry.

“Our clients play a key role in the development of their service and help to shape events and activities – so we’re only too happy to see how we can support Charlotte and the other residents with their poetry ideas for the service.”

When Charlotte was first referred to the service, her mental health needs had made it difficult to be with her family and she needed her own space to get well.

Her community psychiatric nurse and support worker recommended supported housing and, with the service being near to her parents, it was the best way for Charlotte to flourish independently while staying close to her family.

In addition to encouraging Charlotte to develop her poetry, staff at the service supported her to become more independent, develop her self-confidence and gain the courage to go out into the community by herself.

This support was agreed through a personalised plan, which Charlotte drew up with support workers on arriving at the service, that determines which areas the client feels they need support in and how SSL can assist.

Charlotte said: “The staff are great at supporting me to join in with activities at the scheme and within the community and they encourage me to get out and do things.

“I can go to them with all problems and queries and they are always ready to help. When I do become unwell, the support I have from the service is a big help, because the staff know what to do and how to help me best.”

I feel that I have improved tremendously in the year and five months I've been at the service. When I first moved in, I would hardly look at or speak to people; I needed to be driven places; I had bad mental health relapses more often and even ended up in hospital for a short period.

Charlotte Postings, Resident

“With the help of the service staff and my parents, I've been able to grow into the strong woman I am. I feel more comfortable getting on the bus on my own and I'm more able to ask for help and go to staff.

“I'm still a long way off where I want to be, but being here is the best place for me. I can live on my own but still gain the valuable support I need.”

As her independence has flourished. Charlotte has looked at how she can express her mental health needs through her art, and has already started writing poems examining her depression.

This year’s MHAW theme is ‘Surviving or Thriving?’, which aims to explore how people can help themselves, or be supported, to thrive through good mental health.

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Sanctuary Supported Living is a trading name of Sanctuary Housing Association and Sanctuary Home Care Limited, both exempt charities. Images used on our website and literature may be representative and are for illustration purposes only.

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