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Alex’s story: volunteering helped me on my career path

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Alex, aged 22 from the north east, didn’t know which area of psychology she wanted to go into after completing her degree in Psychology last summer.

After researching relevant volunteering opportunities that would help her gain more experience supporting people with a range of mental health needs, Alex signed up to become a Shout Volunteer.

Alex has supported 301 texters in distress as a Shout Volunteer and has gained a wealth of skills, knowledge and experience which have given her greater clarity on what she wants to do next.

This academic year, Alex will begin her Masters in Clinical Psychology.

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My time as a Shout Volunteer has given me insight into what a typical day in the clinical psychology field may include and has confirmed this route is my preference.

What made you decide to become a Shout Volunteer?

My interest in volunteering with Shout stems from my passion for psychology.

Growing up, I became increasingly conscious of the lack of understanding surrounding mental health and the consequent complications. I have grasped every opportunity in education to gain a wider insight into the field, and then chose to undertake a Psychology degree at university.

As I approached the end of my undergraduate degree last summer, I began researching relevant volunteering opportunities.

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I was certain I wanted an opportunity that would provide me with a valuable, enriching experience, as well as allow me to strengthen my psychological literacy skills. Shout gave me this.

What do you find most rewarding?

For me, the most rewarding thing about being a Shout Volunteer is helping a texter move from a state of distress to a calmer place.

Although every conversation covers a different topic and level of risk, the feeling of knowing someone has reached a safe place through our conversation, whether that be mentally or physically, is relieving.

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Volunteering at Shout also provides me with a sense of purpose; I feel confident that I am utilising my time wisely in such a valuable environment.

What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced?

Despite the rewards of being a Shout Volunteer, like all life experiences, there are some challenges.

It can feel concerning when a texter isn’t receptive to in-the-moment support and disengages mid-conversation. However, as a volunteer, I remain hopeful that being there to listen has helped.

Whenever I experience this, the support I receive from other volunteers, my Coach and Supervisors helps me to remain optimistic. I am hopeful that the texter has naturally moved to a calmer state and is no longer in need of support at that exact moment, or perhaps they have reached out for the long-term support they need.

How has volunteering supported your studies and career choices?

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Volunteering with Shout has complemented my psychology studies by equipping me with many new skills, as well as giving me the opportunity to develop and strengthen existing knowledge.

Following the completion of my degree, I faced uncertainty around the area of psychology that I wanted to explore further.

Volunteering for Shout has given me some insight into what a typical day in the clinical psychology field may include and has confirmed this route is my preference.

I now aspire to continue higher education within the clinical field. My future plans consist of completing my Masters in Clinical Psychology and securing a relevant job within the NHS or private practice. My dream would be to complete a doctorate in clinical psychology.

How do you use the skills you’ve gained in your day-to-day life?

Volunteering with Shout has strengthened my ability to communicate more openly about mental health, including topics that are often viewed as taboo. I believe I have grown in empathy and understanding, and am able to discuss topics I previously would have avoided.

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I would encourage anyone in need of support to text Shout. Behind every conversation is a volunteer who will provide you with non-judgemental support. Your feelings are valid and we hear every word.

Alex Shout Volunteer
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