A student who fought back from a traumatic event to graduate this week, is using her own experience to help others struggling with their mental health.
Frankie Samah was hit by a lorry during her teaching studies at the University of Worcester, and, although the physical injuries healed, the incident triggered a lot of anxiety.
But, thanks to the support of University staff, Frankie was able to overcome this and has been using what she went through to inspire others struggling with their mental health, alongside her new career as a teacher.
“Anxiety is the fastest growing illness in under 21s and I feel raising awareness of mental health will help counteract the stigma attached to it,” said Frankie. “I really want to use my experiences around mental health to help others overcome their own issues
After working in various education roles, Frankie had returned to University as a mature student to complete a PGCE in Psychology. But her life was turned upside down when the incident happened on only the first day of her second school placement. Faced with crippling anxiety, Frankie felt unable to cope with the one and a half hour drive to her placement and turned to her tutors for help.
“My mentors at the university, Judy Miller and Suzanne Lawson, were super understanding and really supportive of me,” said the mother-of-one, of Presteigne, mid Wales.
“They allowed me to take some time to heal and defer until the following year. I really don't think without their support I would have completed. There were times when it would seem impossible.”
In the period that Frankie had deferred, the 35-year-old started to write as it helped with her anxiety. This led to a blog on her thoughts and experiences. She has also had articles published in The Psychologist, the magazine of The British Psychological Society, and for the Association of Child and Adolescent Mental Health. She also writes for a Canadian company called Worth Living, which raises awareness of mental health.
Having now completed her PGCE, Frankie is teaching Psychology at a college where she did a placement after returning to her studies. However, she continues to write and hopes to publish her own non-fiction book, which is all about overcoming adversity and mental health issues, specifically anxiety, next year.
“I would like to continue to write and raise awareness of mental health,” she said. “I find reading other people’s journeys really inspiring, so I hope others can find comfort in mine. Also, I have found that writing is really therapeutic and helps me construct my thoughts easier. We should all push for the same common goal of love and humility in a place where people can live free from fear. I would also like to further my career and complete my PhD in educational psychology. I firmly believe in counteracting the stigma around mental health and disabilities. We should begin with the ideology and we can achieve this through education.”
Frankie said she was “relieved” to be graduating. “It was harder than I ever imagined with the long hours, the driving, having to support my daughter and keep the home without having an income, but going back to student life was so much fun,” she said. “The lectures were fascinating, and I met some really passionate people who really inspired me.”