Research and Practice in Adult Literacy – a friendly group


Anon, St Andrew’s Birmingham

My Adult Learning Journey

I have been in the psychiatric healthcare system for twenty-one years. I have at times been very unwell. As a result I have struggled with my motivation.

In the community I studied four GCSE’s which included psychology, law, sociology and English so education has always been important to me. During my time at St Andrew’s and in previous settings, I have studied pet therapy and photography. Within these subjects I have created portfolios involving written text which showed my literacy skills and abilities. It was fun and motivating.

Due to being in hospital I felt that at times I missed out on study opportunities due to staff shortages. At other times, however, this was not the case and I had opportunities as hoped for. Lack of access to opportunities in the community was sometimes hard to deal with. As living with mental heath difficulties has its up and downs it was part and parcel of my experience.

I have a lot of family support. I have had a lot of support from the education team at St Andrew’s and other hospitals. Sometimes it gives you focus on what you want in life and including your aspirations. You’re never too old to learn and just because you are in a psychiatric unit it does not mean you cannot study. You don’t have to miss out.

I feel thankful to the Lord that he has been there for me. I missed out on college because of being in hospital and this was difficult. But you can overcome these obstacles with help.

I would like to share my story anonymously. Thank you for readinq it.

St Andrew’s Birmingham

St Andrew’s Birmingham is a regional site of St Andrew’s, an independent national teaching hospital pioneering in mental health. St Andrew’s is a university learning and research centre partnered with Kings College London. It is the UK’s leading charity providing specialist NHS care.

The Birmingham site consists of eight units covering three care pathways: men’s mental health, women’s mental health and ASD (men’s). A small team offers education as part of the therapeutic programme. Many of our learners have one to one education sessions or very small groups (two to three), where we promote self–esteem by encouraging patients’ motivation to take part in education sessions. We embed literacy, numeracy, and IT skills through personalised learning programmes. We work with a range of other disciplines, including occupational therapy and psychology to encourage engagement in as many different ways as possible. Our patients have complex mental health needs and issues which impact on concentration and motivation but they gain confidence over time to engage in sessions. We shared three learners’ stories with you here.


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