Have you been thinking about making an enquiry to foster, but you’re worried your mental ill-health diagnosis like depression or anxiety will stop you becoming a foster carer? Our respite carer, Cheryl, shares her story about what it’s like to enquire alongside her mental ill-health diagnoses and advocacy.
I wanted to share with potential foster carers who may be considering 'taking that first step' that I have, and do, live and breathe a world of mental health advocacy and well-being. I advocate for me, too, not just for others. I manage multiple diagnoses on a daily basis, and I know I am who I am because of this.
My reason for sharing some of my story is to offer motivation, hope and encouragement to others wondering about whether fostering is the route for them. Don’t be 'put off' and close that door before you’ve enquired. Don’t assume you are going to be turned down at the outset just because you have had your own journey through the world of depression or anxiety or some other complex mental health needs. This is something I have no doubt about; you should enquire.
Flipping it to the other side, there are so many reasons that mean you could be right for this. For me, the first thing is that if someone has lived a journey living with and managing a mental health condition, I feel strongly that this can bring both unspoken understanding to someone else who is experiencing something similar - having worked with professionals, learning new things about yourself and having a 'working insight' to conditions can give you that 'expert by experience' knowledge. It’s the ‘bread and butter’ of how life could be for the families and parents that you may be working alongside.
This experience is like gold dust - and you cannot learn this by completing courses or reading books. In some ways, I feel that having had this journey makes me well equipped to understand the lives of children in care.
In this complex world, statistics show that 1 in 4 will live with a mental health condition at some stage in their life. Think about that in the terms of your family, the houses in your neighbourhood. It is a great number of people.
Seeking support for mental health is a strength. Using your insight into the struggles of mental health with children in care is courage beyond compare.
If you’re thinking about fostering, call and have a chat. You might be more right for the role of a carer than you know.
If you would like to start your journey to foster, enquire here