If you would benefit from professional psychological support, we offer a confidential counselling service. You can access counselling sessions via phone, Zoom or for those within travelling distance to Altrincham, face to face.
My name’s Imani*. I’m an overseas qualified pharmacist enrolled at one of the universities offering the OSPAP course in the UK. I’m sharing my story and experience of using the Pharmacist Support services to encourage others to reach out if they need support.
Outside the UK, apart from working as a licensed pharmacist in a busy community pharmacy, I’ve worked in the pharmaceutical sales industry and the health insurance industry.
During one of my monthly virtual meetings with my RPS mentor, I broke down crying when she asked how I was coping with my OSPAP course, my part time job at a hospital pharmacy and my personal life. I wasn’t attending lectures, I had stopped going in to work and did not want to leave my bed. It was also the first time in my life when I was living by myself and wouldn’t see anyone for days.
I was clearly not managing stress very well and looked like I needed professional help.
My RPS mentor asked me to look into counselling sessions but, being a student, I wasn’t making enough money to afford therapy and I didn’t want to use the free NHS services as I would just be put on a long waiting list. My mentor suggested I approach Pharmacist Support since they offer free counselling sessions to people working and studying in pharmacy.
I was a bit hesitant at first since, in my experience, most organisations aren’t aware that OSPAP students are just like MPharm students. However, I was desperate for help and decided to contact the charity.
Accessing support from Pharmacist Support was really straight forward.
Their website had all the information I needed to access the counselling service. I emailed my completed self-referral form to them and had a reply within a few days. The Pharmacist Support team gave me a reference which I had to quote to CFC (their counselling provider). After giving my availability, I was matched with a counsellor and started my sessions within a few weeks.
The counselling sessions were extremely focused and helped me deal with my problems at hand.
My counsellor was very understanding and sympathetic to all my current problems and never offered me a direct solution. Instead she created a safe, non-judgemental space for me where I could talk to her and come up with a solution for everything by myself. It was a very cathartic experience. I felt in control of my own life for the first time and felt confident to live my life in the way I wanted.
I cannot put into words how much the weekly sessions have helped me. My thought process has changed. I am more positive, I am prioritising myself, I am making a conscious effort to look after my mental health and to assess my emotions instead of ignoring them and letting them build up as I used to before.
Additionally, I was going through a difficult time in my personal life and was dependant on someone financially who was affecting my mental wellbeing. I wanted to remove that person from my life but was financially tied to them. Through their Financial Assistance service, Pharmacist Support helped me pay a month’s worth of rent so I could start my foundation training year without worrying about where to live. It gave me the peace of mind that I needed to start a new chapter of my life.
I genuinely don’t know if I would be sitting here writing this if it wasn’t for the counselling sessions and financial support.
It’s true to say I was in a dark place and didn’t see a way out. I will be forever grateful to Pharmacist Support for being there in my time of need.
*We have used a pseudonym to protect Imani’s identity.