Mental Health Life Story: James

14 February 2017
A Salisbury man whose social anxiety has seen him reluctant to leave his supported housing flat overcame his fears when he rushed to the aid of a driver in a nearby car accident.

James overcame his social anxiety to help out. Photo posed by model.

James*, 24, was first alerted to the incident in the early hours of the morning, when he heard the sound of the collision from the bedroom of his flat at Sanctuary Supported Living’s Springfield service, on Bishopdown Road, which provides accommodation for people with mental health needs.

Once outside, James found a vehicle that had turned on its side following a collision with a parked car and called the emergency services.

Having made the call, James’s attention then turned to the wellbeing of the driver.

He said: “There was quite a bit of smoke coming from the vehicle, so I knew I had to get some fresh air in there; I was focused on making sure he would stay alive until an ambulance arrived.

“I wanted to see how bad it was. I knew you’re not supposed to move people in case they’ve been injured so I opened the boot instead to let some fresh air in.”

Once the boot was open, James then kept the driver company until help could arrive and to make sure the driver was still conscious.

A couple of days later, James was able to catch up with the male driver and learned he had only sustained minor injuries in the incident.

The rush to leave the flat into an uncertain situation is a stark contrast to James’ social anxiety and associated mental health needs, which often see him reluctant to leave the flat, even to talk to his key worker, and fearful of social situations.

This paradox is something James, who has lived at the service since February 2015, puts down to the unusual nature of the incident.

He said: “Confidence has different meanings; I’m not very good at social situations with other people, but if it’s something that helps people in need, then I’m all for it.

“I was anxious at the time because I’d never seen something like that before, but I knew I wanted to help.

I feel like I have been better since moving to Springfield – the key workers have been great at helping me to come to terms with and address some of my social anxiety issues.

James, Resident

James’s key worker, Jan Brown, said: “In terms of support, James is a case of taking it slow and steady and he is beginning to interact better with other people in the house.

“What he will need before he can move on into independent living is to become more accustomed to regularly heading out into the community and that’s something we’re encouraging him to do at the moment by increasing trips into town, to head out for a coffee, for example.

“Because of his shy and reclusive nature, it was all the more amazing to hear he had rushed out and helped someone in the way that he did; we’re all tremendously proud of him.”

* James is a pseudonym

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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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