A recently graduated University of Worcester student hopes to use her expertise to give people in the community strategies to improve their mental health.
Imogen Healy is graduating with a Masters in Counselling and hopes to become a counselling psychologist.
But, beyond this, she aims to raise awareness of how people can take action to manage their mental health by giving talks and workshops to schools and community groups.
“I want to help other people understand how they can improve their mental health as I think that struggles with mental health are part of being human,” said Imogen. “Yet at school I was only taught about physical health and why that's important. But when it came to dealing with stressful situations, I had no idea how to support myself mentally.
“It should be something that we learn as part of all of our lives. We don't need to be experiencing a mental illness or time of crisis to recognise this.”
The 27-year-old, from Stourbridge, who now lives in Doncaster, completed an undergraduate Psychology degree at the University of Worcester in 2014 before returning to complete her Master’s.
“I took this Masters course with the purpose of pursuing my career as a psychologist,” she said. “Today’s Graduation is another milestone in my journey that I feel it is important to celebrate.”
The former Redhill School pupil won a scholarship to Sri Lanka to volunteer as an assistant psychologist at the end of her undergraduate degree, and became interested in mindfulness and meditation practices, which are very much a part of the Buddhist communities that she spent time with both there and during some time in Taiwan.
Imogen said this inspired her research project as part of her Master’s, centred around self-compassion, self-esteem and student well-being.
“I have noticed that often there are self-critical thoughts behind many mental health struggles,” said Imogen. “Self-compassion is like the antidote to that. It encourages us to talk to ourselves like we would do a friend rather than beating ourselves up for our mistakes or perceived flaws. Being a student is a learning journey, you're bound to make mistakes along the way, temporarily this could have a knock on your self-esteem. This is where self-compassion comes in. “
Imogen is now studying for a Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology at York St John University.
Upon completion of her doctorate, Imogen plans to apply for work as a Counselling Psychologist in the NHS. This will involve working with children, adolescents and adults that are struggling with psychological problems. Beyond this, once she has built up her experience in the NHS, Imogen hopes to open her own private practice, alongside her work with the community.