Louise Cashman from Midleton, Co Cork, became ill with anxiety after a tough period in her life. Completing the Focus mental health recovery programme with the National Learning Network gave her the confidence she needed to pursue her career plans
“Three years ago, when I was 37, I became very sick with anxiety. I had just moved house, my father had died and I’d recently completed a tourism and heritage business course. I was sitting in the house staring at the four walls.
“My mental health nurse gave me an application form for the Focus course at NLN Midleton and I can honestly say it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It gave me the kick in the backside I needed.
“Studying at NLN got me back into a routine and brought back the confidence I’d lost, I was meeting people and being pushed out of my comfort zone. It gave me the confidence to go back to college once the course was done.
“The NLN set up was very good, the support was second-to-none, all the staff were very approachable and helped me along with anything that came up. They also helped me with my college applications.
“People I met on the course are friends for life, I know I can go to them and if I’m in trouble they’re there for me…
“I now have a full Level 5 QQI in Applied Social Studies from Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa and I’m studying for Level 6.
“Eventually, I would love to work in mental health education because I’ve been down that road myself.
“I would highly recommend the Focus course at NLN to anybody.”
Focus is designed to enable students who experience mental health difficulties to enhance their mental health, independent living skills, level of connection to their own communities, quality of life, access to training, education and employment options and future planning. The course is delivered by a multi-disciplinary team.