I'm Catherine Bryan, a 23 year old occupational therapy assistant, part time chef and baking enthusiast.
I finished my undergraduate degree at Plymouth University in Psychology with Criminology and Criminal justice studies nearly 18 months ago and since then I have been working hard in the world of mental health.
However, as much as I love what I am doing, I have discovered that I can only really progress in my career and make bigger differences in the world of psychology if I do post-graduate study, which is why I have decided to do a masters degree.
I recently gained a place at Kings College London's Institute of Psychiatry to study an MSc in Forensic Mental Health. The Institute of Psychiatry is Europe's largest centre for research and postgraduate education in Psychology, Psychiatry and basic and clinical neuroscience. So to gain a place here means lot to me. It will open so many doors that will allow me to take part in amazing psychological research and help me to progress in my aim of helping those individuals suffering from psychological problems.
However, as I have discovered, funding a years post graduate study, (especially in London) is exceptionally pricey and financial support appears to be sparse. I have looked in to scholarships and bursaries, as well as trying to secure bank loans but I have had no success. I have been working for 18 months now, but unfortunately salary levels in mental health are not high and I haven't been able to save the money that I need for this years study.
A Breakdown of Costs:
With the year of study being academically very demanding, travelling from my current home, would be far too time consuming as well as costly. Therefore, I have budgeted for course fees as well as the expense of renting a room in London. A breakdown of costs is as follows:
Course Fees: £8,000
Rent, Bills & Food: £12,488
Other (e.g. travel, books): £4,188
Paypal Fees: £864
A General Bit About Me
As you may have guessed already, Psychology is a real passion of mine and I feel very motivated to make a difference to the world of mental health and those individuals affected by this. This interest has led to many different experiences to date.
I have carried out numerous volunteer roles which have included working in a category A youth offenders institute, as well as working in two mental health day centers for individuals suffering from anxiety, depression, dementia and addiction.
I am now working full time in a community step down hospital for males with learning disabilities and mental health disorders. This work is great and my role within the hospital is the occupational therapy assistant whereby I coordinate the patient's therapeutic activities with the aim of getting them more independent. Examples of activities that I have help to organize and run have been cooking skills, budgeting skill, social skills, gardening, mindful walking, music sessions etc.
In this job I was also able to administer a sensory therapy programme to a severely autistic boy. This included using special brushes on his arms and legs in order to reduce his self-injurious behaviour. I made a journal of my observations when doing this and the other staff and myself were amazed to see the difference this made in calming down his challenging behaviours.
Aside from my interest in psychology, I also love to bake. I've always loved this as a hobby and last year I was given the responsibility of baking many of the desserts for my local pub's menu. As well as this, I took on the role of part time chef twice a week and learnt a thing or two about cooking.
I also love animals and have spent every summer since I was 13 working at a small animal hotel called the 'rabbit ritz'. Here I was able to help look after many small and exotic animals and in the absence of the owner, I was given the opportunity to run the business for short periods of time.
Why am I asking for Help?
I've always been aware that doing a master's degree is not cheap. However, what has really shocked me is the extreme lack of financial support for students wishing to take this path. It seems that banks won't give you a loan unless you are earning more than 10k a year and scholarships and grants are extremely hard to come by.
This MSc will open up a world of opportunities. Many students who have studied at Kings Institute of Psychiatry have gone on to do PHD's at some amazing universities as well as working on research projects and other areas of psychology. Therefore I am very confident that completing this MSc will enable me to significantly progress my career and make a difference in helping individuals with psychological and mental health problems in the future.
Although I have been lucky enough to have secured two jobs since finishing my undergraduate degree, the world of healthcare unfortunately does not lend itself to huge salaries. The past year I have been earning just enough to get by but this has made it very difficult to save, despite my best efforts. So any donation you can provide me would be tremendously appreciated and would allow me to take this exciting step forward in completing a masters degree.
So thank you in advance for any contribution you make! It will really mean a lot and I will be exceptionally grateful!