Woman who suffered burns helping others

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A Strabane woman who suffered serious burns when she set fire to herself in her garage has told Western Trust chiefs that waiting times to see a psychologist need to be drastically reduced.

The woman, who asked to known simply as Caroline, gave a moving account of how a new approach to healing - IMROC (Implementing Recovery through Organisational Change), helped her move on with her life.

However, she also revealed she had experienced prejudice in hospital because of her mental health issues.

At yesterday’s meeting of the Western Trust Board, Caroline was accompanied by Olive Young, a nurse who works in community mental health, who Caroline described as her “rock.”

“When you have someone who believes in you, that makes all the difference,” an emotional Caroline told Western Trust health chiefs.

“Olive introduced me to IMROC,” she said. “I met people who were in the same boat that I was. I felt like I wasn’t the only person who had suffered with terrible depression and anxiety.”

Olive Young said she had met Caroline when she had been discharged from the Royal Victoria Hospital.

“She was trying to come to terms with her injuries,” she said. “We were trying to get her to come out of the house. She has a real desire to help other people and share her own experience of living with depression.

“She told me - I want to help other people. This was around the time IMROC was introduced, I knew she had so much to give us and she would give hope to other people.”

IMROC allowed Caroline to speak to medical professionals and help train them in the best ways to help people needing treatment for mental health issues. Caroline has now taken part in the Train the Trainer events and spoken at several events across the North West.

“People say they are inspired by me but I am inspired by other users,” said Caroline. “We are all learning from each other.”

Asked if she could highlight anything the Trust could improve on, Caroline revealed how she was told she had to wait nine weeks to see a psychologist. “That just doesn’t work,” she said.

She also revealed that she feels a stigma exists in the hospital environment. “I experienced prejudice,” she said. “I knew by the way they were reacting and that made me feel guilt.”