Inspirational Story

Isobel Jackson

Who am I? Isobel Jackson

What is my role? Occupational Therapist in a Community Mental Health Team

How did you find out about the role of an Occupational Therapist?

Growing up I was never entirely sure what job I wanted to go into. Every week I would change my mind, and this varied from marine biology to physiotherapy.

In 2011, my little brother was born early at 31 weeks which resulted in him having cerebral palsy. Over the years I witnessed some of the amazing support his Occupational Therapist’s offered and became inspired by this line of work.


What was your journey to become an Occupational Therapist?

In 2015, I completed my GCSE’s which then allowed me to move on to study A-Levels in Psychology, Biology and Chemistry. This resulted in being accepted onto the BSc Occupational Therapy course at Coventry University in 2017.


Was there a particular part of Occupational Therapy you were interested in?

Prior to starting my course and during my first year of study I was set on graduating into Neurology, especially after having an enjoyable placement within outpatient brain injury.

Anything “brain-related” was my bread and butter and I thought nothing could have swayed me away from this end-goal. That was until I had my second-year placement within a mental health day centre.

Before starting this placement, my view of anything mental health was skewed by the media and my learning during psychology a-levels. This meant the vision I had in my head was of an early psychiatric asylum.

It is safe to say I was incredibly wrong with this pre-conceived idea and by the end of the placement my end-goal had changed from neurology to exploring mental health as well.


What was it about Mental Health that made you want to work in this area?

My interest in mental health elevated following my experiences during my palliative care placement. Whilst on this placement, I was given the opportunity to shadow the spirituality team within the hospital.

During this day, we were supporting parents and family of a young boy who had attempted to end his life through overdosing the previous morning, however, later that day he was announced brain-dead. I witnessed the aftermath effects of this tragedy on his family and came away now knowing that I wanted a future job which would allow me to help prevent suicide.

I love being challenged daily and being able to work with clients to formulate their current struggles, where this may have stemmed from and how we can move forward to change this

Where are you working now?

I am now working within the Leeds Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) as a Senior Occupational Therapist/Care Co-ordinator.

Day to day this involves me supporting people in accessing the community following a deterioration in their mental health which may have included hospital or an intensive support services involvement.

CMHT working can be varied through a wide range of diagnosis and presentations across working age adults (18-65 year old).

Within my current role I love being challenged daily and being able to work with clients to formulate their current struggles, where this may have stemmed from and how we can move forward to change this.


What do you enjoy about working in the Community Mental Health Team?

As I am only early stages into my career, CMHT has allowed me to gain a broad understanding of mental health but also identify specific areas of interest and tailor my caseload to develop within these areas.

It has also allowed work with all sorts of risk and challenge me professionally which helped me to gain my band 6 role within the team very quickly.

Even though we do a lot of lone-working with CMHT’s, you will never feel alone as the team are very supportive and encourage decision making as a multi-disciplinary team.


What are the benefits of working in a Community Mental Health Team?

Another benefit of my role is the longer-term working one to one with clients which increases job satisfaction and a sense of achievement as it enables me to see them go through different stages of recovery and progress.

Whilst working within the CMHT I have been able to access a lot of professional development opportunities ranging from: becoming an advocate for staff wellbeing, particularly during ‘COVID times’ to help support staff in avoiding burn out, to taking on students and new starter staff in order to support them achieve their goals for professional development.