University of Leicester Psychology Students Venture Overseas For Much Desired Experience

Posted by egg3 at Sep 28, 2015 10:25 AM |
University of Leicester Psychology students head to Sri Lanka to get work experience

Around 20,000 Psychology Graduates will apply for a Clinical Psychology Doctorate in 2015. There are only 550 spaces. This means under 4% of applicants will be successful and, in many cases, this will not be the first year that they have applied.

University of Leicester students; Katherine Stroud, Lauren Lovejoy, Martha Perkins and Rachel Wilson know first-hand how difficult gaining a place on the Clinical Psychology doctorate course can be. With such fierce competition in Clinical Psychology, work experience carries as much weight as academic achievement, if not more.

The problem is that finding hands-on Psychology Work experience is not always easy, so these students decided to venture further afield to gain the crucial experience they needed, travelling to the Island of Sri Lanka to participate in a Mental Health Placement. For 4 and 5 weeks last year these young adults shared their skills at Psychiatric Hospitals and ran therapeutic activity sessions at centres for individuals with various specific needs. This placement was organised by SLV, a volunteer organisation founded in 2010 by Psychology Graduates in a similar position to Katherine, Lauren, Martha and Rachel.

Mental Health Care in Sri Lanka is in its infancy. The stigma for those with Mental Health issues is still widespread, and with just one Psychiatrist for every 500,000 people, there is still a long way to go. In the past 5 years, over 1000 Psychology students have joined SLV to dedicate their time to supporting people with mental health issues in Sri Lanka to reduce the care deficit by boosting the existing resources in place, and offering stimulating therapeutic activity sessions for service users during all stages of their recovery.

The SLV Mental Health Placement is partnered with the King’s College London Resource Centre for Trauma, Displacement and Mental Health. Katherine, Lauren, Martha and Rachel were trained and supported by Sri Lankan Mental Health professionals to help equip them with the skills to work sensitively within the Sri Lankan culture, and in thoroughly under-resourced facilities and challenging environments.

Being a SLV volunteer was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I gained an immense amount of confidence and an eye opening first person account of mental health care in Sri Lanka. I'm so happy that I was able to live with a local family and fully integrate with their life and culture.

Katherine Stroud

My time in Sri- Lanka with SLV was one I will certainly never forget. Not only did I gain invaluable experience in a clinical psychology setting that will really enhance my CV, but I also had the opportunity to embrace a new culture, explore a beautiful country and make incredible friends.

Rachel Wilson

Just like many Psychology graduates hoping to explore a career in the field, I found it hard to gain experience in the mental health sector in the UK, and provide evidence of a ‘unique selling point’ in the competitive jobs market. I chose to apply for a placement with SLV because it is an ethical organisation which employs Sri Lankan workers, involves the Sri Lankan community, and has seen real progress in attitudes towards mental health and disability since its involvement. It is a fantastic opportunity to challenge yourself, gain new skills, meet like-minded people, and provide that all important USP to potential employers. It is such a great way to spend a summer within or after your studies, I only wish I’d done it sooner!

Lauren Lovejoy

Working with SLV was an incredible experience; I learnt so much about working in mental health and special needs within an entirely different culture, as well as adapting to challenging situations quickly and effectively with great support from the SLV staff and coordinators.

Martha Perkins

SLV are recruiting new team members for Mental Health, Teaching and Special Needs Placements in 2016. Get in touch!

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