Victoria is a mum of four, working in the third sector and freelance in communications and marketing. She enjoys running and reading in her spare time.
She is also an NCMH Research Champion, helping to spread the word about our research.
I’m a mum of four and based in the Northeast of England. I am currently working in the health sector in finance and project management collaboration between the statutory and community/voluntary sectors for the charity Blue Stone Collaborative.
I also work freelance in marketing, digital media, and communications for a variety of cultural, arts and health-based organisations around the UK. I enjoy running and reading in my spare time and have a degree in sociology and social policy as well as a master’s in media culture and education.
I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) in 2013 although I have also experienced a variety of behaviours, coping strategies, and symptoms such as depression, anxiety, stress, self-harm, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), eating disorders, suicide attempts and binge drinking.
This led to frequent A&E attendances in my 20s and experiences accessing a broad range of therapies such as Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and medications over the years.
Despite the ongoing nature of my mental health issues, I am well supported by family and friends and currently working part-time, while I am also engaged as a service user with the Newcastle Recovery College and Gateshead Community Mental Health Team.
I participate in service user projects, forums, research, and groups wherever I have the opportunity around my work and family commitments.
Would you recommend taking part in research to somebody else?
Yes, service users need to be heard, sharing good practice and bad, allowing others to learn and develop based on their experiences as well as helping services to understand the complexities and individual needs of patients from diverse groups.
The NCMH process has been professional and felt secure, clear, and empowering and I would fully recommend the organisation based on the contact I have had with them so far.
What do you hope our research will achieve?
A better acceptance and understanding of individuals with multiple and complex needs leading to a more holistic approach to recovery.
How have you used your lived experience of mental health problems to champion and influence research?
I try to engage with as many opportunities to use my experience for the benefit of others as possible and have been an expert by experience alongside research with for McPin Foundation, UCL, Fulfilling Lives, University of Teesside and Suffolk University.
I am also a member of the Gateshead Service User Forum and currently contributing to several mental health related podcasts and hoping to soon be a trustee of Borderline Support UK.
I have some academic background in communications, qualitative and quantitative research methods too, having earned a 1st class honours degree in Sociology and Social Policy and completed master’s degrees in Education and Media Culture.
I believe my lived experience as well as my academic and professional experience will be useful in supporting others to feel empowered and enabled to make decisions on their care and support as well as contributing to the improvement of mental health services, especially in the community.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself that not many people know about:
I am a huge fan of true crime podcasts and often listen to them while out jogging.