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Case Study - Conrad Debney

Supporting the Movember campaign is Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) dementia trainer Conrad Debney.

The campaign resonates particularly with Conrad who qualified as a nurse in 1994 before severe mental health problems led him to leave the profession in 2011.

He spoke about how he fought to return to the job he loved: “I had lost my job, my registration and even my marriage, and I reached had a point where I believed I could never be a nurse again due to the hidden effort it took me just to present myself as ‘normal’.”

However, in 2012 a colleague tracked Conrad down and encouraged him to get involved in NSFT’s Recovery College.

He said: “The Recovery College was instrumental in helping me to first recover a sense of purpose, and to eventually discover I could still dream of being a nurse again.”

NSFT set up its Recovery College in October 2013 to empower people with mental health problems to become experts in their own recovery.

It provides a range of courses and workshops to service users, carers and members of staff to develop their skills, understand mental health, identify goals and support their access to opportunities.

Three years after getting involved with the Recovery College, Conrad was a Peer Tutor and beginning to think a return to practice may be possible and applied and was accepted for a Return to Practice course at the University of East Anglia in September 2015.

He said: “Accepting who and what I am now, and being brave enough to show that to the world at work as well as in my private life has been a huge battle for me, as I am sure it is for many others.

“My previous beliefs, that I was a valueless misfit who should not be allowed near other people, let alone to continue in the nursing profession, led me to the conclusion that I had no place in the world, and no true purpose, and that it made sense to kill myself.

“Sometimes I still feel this way, but I do not have to hide it anymore, and allowing the world to see me as I really am gives me a sense of reality at times when I struggle to maintain this myself. My role as a nurse is still a big part of who I am, but it is no longer the only thing that I am.”

According to the Movember Foundation, across the world, a man dies as a result of suicide every minute of every day and three out of four people who take their own lives are men.

One of the aims of the Movember campaign is to help men and boys take action to be mentally well, and make sure they are supported by their friends, family and community during their most difficult times.

For more information about Wellbeing services in Norfolk and Waveney, go to: www.wellbeingnands.co.uk  0300 123 1503 and in Suffolk 0300 123 1781

For more information about the Movember Foundation, go to: uk.movember.com

For emotional support contact Samaritans on 116 123 or visit samaritans.org

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