Mike Riggans volunteers for Herts Mind Network (HMN), a provider of mental health services across Hertfordshire which offers support to anyone over the age of 18 facing a mental health problem. Mike shares why he volunteers for HMN and what he gets out of it.
1. What inspired you to get into volunteering and to volunteer for Herts Mind Network (HMN)?
I’ve always wanted to volunteer for HMN since I was around the age of 17/18 when I was studying psychology at school and going through my own personal struggles with mental health issues. The most positive outcome from this difficult period of my life, besides the improvement of my mental health, was realising that I wanted to devote my life to working with and supporting those with mental health issues. My personal experience and recovery from this period has inspired me to do so and volunteering with HMN has allowed me to use this experience, by relating to and helping others in similar situations.
2. Do you have to balance other commitments with your volunteering?
Yes, I also work as a Support2Recovery Worker for Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and South Lincolnshire Mind (CPSL Mind).
3. Do you need to have any experience, qualifications or training before volunteering with them?
What’s great about volunteering with HMN is the only experience you need is an understanding and knowledge about mental health issues, whether that be from lived experience, caring for someone with mental health difficulties or not.
4. What do you like best about volunteering for HMN? What activities do you get involved with?
I love volunteering at HMN as I get to meet and hear from lots of interesting and different people each day, learning about mental health from these individuals’ own perspectives. What I enjoy the most is experiencing the moments during mentoring when you have a real connection with another human being, realising that you can make a genuine difference towards someone’s life by supporting and empowering them through a difficult period. Reflecting on an individual's recovery that you have contributed to is one of the best feelings in the world.
Participating in group sessions also involves engaging in enjoyable activities such as days out to the park and zoo, quizzes, going out for meals, ice skating, arts & crafts, as well as informative and educational activities such as, first aid awareness, meditation and mindfulness.
5. What opportunities are available for volunteers to get involved with?
HMN offers plenty of diverse opportunities for potential volunteers such as, peer mentoring, participating in groups and courses, administration and even gardening. All of these opportunities can also be targeted towards specific areas of support, such as physical health issues.
6. What advice would you give to anyone thinking of volunteering?
I would advise that prospective volunteers spend some time researching volunteer roles so they can find the right opportunity for them, but the best advice I can give is to just go for it.