It takes courage to reach out for help and it’s okay to feel worried to talk to someone about what you’re going through”

In a recent study, 74% of people said they felt so stressed that they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. Many things can cause stress and it is totally unique to you, what may seem small could be a huge trigger to someone else.

It’s important to remember that if you are struggling and are having more bad days than good, it’s time to reach out and speak to someone… someone like Jasmin. Many people can find it difficult to reach out to someone or struggle being vulnerable to a person they have never met before. It’s okay to feel that way.

Today we are sharing our latest Five Minutes With article featuring Jasmin Knight, a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner. Just like you, Jasmin has hobbies, family, friends, hopes and dreams for the future, she also happens to be a highly qualified clinical professional that is here to help you.

Reaching out can be very daunting, but hopefully, by reading the following article it will reduce any anxieties you may have about Talking Therapies by learning about the compassionate, inclusive, and committed professionals we have at the Trust… you never know, it could be Jasmin that you speak to!

Hi Jasmin, please could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and what you do at Team BSMHFT?

I’m a naturalist (not to be mistaken for a naturist), you can find me outdoors foraging for fungi, walking in the woods in my wellies, camping, or crafting! Family means everything to me. I’m half Thai with family from across the globe, and with this comes my love for travel.

I’ve had a diverse range of roles within my career path, and I started my world of work at my mum and dad’s café at the local swimming baths serving cones of chips to punters after they’d been for a swim at our local sports centre. From there to events, marketing, teaching, and charity work, and back to my first degree where I found my place here, in a field that I’m deeply passionate about, mental health. Professionally, I’m a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner, working within the North team of Birmingham Healthy Minds within BSMHFT. I’ve been here for just over two years now and I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had here and the privilege to work with such a range of patients and colleagues along the way. It’s a dynamic role and I look forward to waking up every morning, knowing that I’m helping others.

Day to day, I triage and assess individuals presenting with a range of mental health needs from anxiety and depression to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I treat patients within a stepped care model at Step 2, meaning I work with individuals with mild to moderate symptoms of common mental health disorders through in person, telephone, video, group workshops and online modalities. Treating individuals with models in line with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is my bread and butter, but delivering this treatment alongside Compassion Focused techniques is where things glitter for me.

As an addition to my role, I’ve taken on the role of being the Young Person’s Champion. As part of this, we work in partnership to deliver workshops and offer a direct pathway for assessments to universities, schools, and colleges such as Solihull University and South and City College Birmingham. It’s a rewarding part of the job and helps to work in a more proactive way towards maintaining good mental wellbeing.

a group picture of the Birmingham healthy minds team

What are Talking Therapies for someone who doesn’t know?

Talking therapies, in a nutshell is the primary care level of mental health support. We assess individuals 16 years old and above and we treat those with common mental health problems from a range of anxiety disorders, depression, trauma, and phobias, however, individuals do not need to be diagnosed with a mental health problem to refer. Talking therapies can also help those who have mental health problems resulting from other conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, long-term pain, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

We offer free and confidential psychological therapies delivered by a wide array of fully trained and accredited practitioners via a range of evidence-based talking therapies offered based on the evidence for treatment shown to be most helpful those specific symptoms. This could be Guided Self-help (GSH), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Counselling for Depression, Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), interpersonal therapy (IPT) or dynamic interpersonal therapy (DIT), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

We may be an individual’s first point of contact for sharing their experience of what they’re going through, and part of their first steps towards the road to recovery. Individuals may be referred by their GP, other health professionals, or they can self-refer by calling us on 0121 301 2525, text ‘BHM’ to 60777 or via our online self-referral form.

What happens when you refer yourself?

After Birmingham Healthy Minds talking therapies service has been contacted the following process happens…

  • Someone from the service will get in touch, usually within a few weeks
  • When they get in contact, they’ll ask for more details about the problems you’re having (this is known as an assessment)
  • If the service thinks they can help you, they’ll recommend a therapy for you (this is based on your symptoms)
  • Waiting times for the first session vary and the practitioner will let you know what to expect.

For many people, talking to a stranger about their struggles can be really difficult, what would you say to someone who feels this way?

It takes courage to reach out for help and it’s okay to feel worried to talk to someone about what you’re going through. More often than not, I get people saying how much better they feel after the first conversation, they say they feel a weight lifted and that it was easier to talk to a stranger that doesn’t judge because they understand on a professional level.

Has there ever been a stand-out moment in your career that has made you pause and reflect?

Having only been in this part of my career for around two years, I can already say there have been so many moments that have made me pause and reflect, times where I’ve learned a lot about myself and times where I’ve been so proud to bring who I am to this role. A most recent time was working with a young person with additional needs who was unable to leave the house due to experiencing symptoms of panic. We worked together to understand her symptoms and to overcome them which meant she could get her back to doing her volunteer work at a charity kitchen and attend a family wedding and all the celebrations around it.

a letter written by a service user to Jasmin

Why did you decide to pursue a career in mental health specifically?

Having experienced some pretty dark times myself and having fought, masked and lived with anxiety for a long time and having successfully worked through these times alone and with professionals, it has shaped me for the better. I feel through experiencing these times, that I have become a stronger and more resilient person. I really feel that everybody should have the support they need, like I received to improve their mental wellbeing.

We’re here to help, and nobody should have to suffer alone with their mental health when we can support them with interventions to get them back to living a more fulfilled and balanced life.

Having also supported various individuals close to me with their mental health struggles, I come to this role with the compassion and care that I know I’d want my loved ones to receive.

When I’m experiencing hard times, a poem by Rumi helps to bring me comfort. Knowing that these tough times are temporary, that I can be with them, but everyday brings another, something different, something new to learn, something to look forward to:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Past, present or future, what three people would you most want to sit down for a meal with?

Anthony Kiedis – For a bit of fun. Having created music that connects with my soul, he’s a member of one of my favourite bands.

Sir David Attenborough – What an amazing repertoire of work for the good of the world he has done and continues to do. A national treasure that has had so many great opportunities within the world of nature, I just want to hear more.

Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí – A Spanish surrealist artist, introduced to me in my young age by my dad. I’m fascinated by his magnetic pieces and am intrigued by his brilliantly extraverted persona.

Tell us something that people might not know about you

I used to live in Vietnam, where I worked as a schoolteacher (from nursery ages to sixth form level). My means of travel was a ruby red motorbike which I’d travel in all types of weather – in the blazing hot sun, the thick Hanoi smog or through a foot of rain during monsoon season!

Describe yourself in three words

Driven, compassionate, and creative.