Inside the Life of an Volunteer

Ciaran from the UK

Hi, I’m Ciaran and I am a Crisis Responder with IMAlive. I originally found out about IMAlive while working with another global mental health organisation. We would often find ourselves referring people, who were suffering from intense emotional distress, to IMAlive knowing the quality of the care they would receive.

Throughout my life, I have struggled with suicide thoughts and attempts. My first hospital admission was when I was 10 years old for a suicide attempt. Following on from this, I spent the rest of my teenage years in and out of mental health hospitals along with additional attempts. I was just not able to get the right care when I needed it. 

I understand first-hand how important our response to those who are struggling with feeling suicidal is. Reaching out to a service is a big ask of someone. It takes a lot, however, some services respond to those who are suffering from these thoughts and urges by rushing someone down to a general hospital. They will sit in an emergency department for hours on end before they are sent home or placed in a hospital. I believe that this outcome can be avoided when they get the right level of intervention at that point of contact depending on the case.

IMAlive empowers people to find the steps they feel are needed to better their lives and emerge from the dark place they have found themselves in. I  most love the fact that we are global; anyone, despite where they come from, can reach out to us. We do not exclude any demographic whatsoever which feels so important in the world we live in now. Our focus is solely preventing suicide and lending a helping hand to those experiencing a crisis. It’s prevalent in how we go about delivering our service. 

I like to think I am able to use the skills I’ve learned with IMAlive in order to bring someone in a period of crisis back into the moment and support them in creating a plan to move forward with life, keeping themselves safe and identifying a future for them in this world. However, I think what is key about volunteering here is just simply showing up for a person who just needs someone in that moment and acknowledging that they are someone’s family member or friend and giving them the same level of care that you would want your own loved ones to get if in the same position.

Outside of IMAlive,  I live in the UK where I study Forensic Psychology and work full-time supporting those who suffer from mental health issues that prevent them from living independently or they are unable to due to being detained in some form. I also manage a helpline service for a national non-profit, focusing on loneliness. I enjoy travelling and exploring new cultures. I spend lots of time reading, especially academic textbooks and learning about new advances in Psychology. When I need to just take some time out, I will binge watch a TV show or film, or simply spend time snuggling with my dog. I am also a big Ice Hockey fan with my favourite team being Edmonton Oilers.

Being part of this amazing organisation and seeing the achievements we reach as a team is truly inspiring. Hearing the stories of those who reach out inspires me to continue this work and helps me push through challenges in my own life.

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