Not all heroes wear capes

Mental health staff in Brighton recently received a heartfelt letter of thanks from a gentleman who hailed mental health workers as his ‘heroes’. 

Two staff members from the Community Rehabilitation Team and the Assessment and Treatment service received a handwritten note from a man who has been using their services. Both teams are run by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust who provide mental health and learning disability care in Sussex. 

Richard, who until 2 years ago was unable to read or write, took the time to thank staff in these two services with a handwritten letter, saying: “I was asked in my English class who my heroes were. My heroes are all my mental health workers. They do such a good job for not much money and not too many thank you’s. 

“I’ve had a lot of mental health problems in my life and to tell you the truth in the past I’ve not been a nice person to be around but these special workers have never held this against me. You might ask how going out for a coffee or hot chocolate if I’m feeling good can help. Well, to someone like me it’s the difference between me going out or not. Just to chat to someone I feel is on my side ready to fight for my rights. I’ve never had this so it makes me feel worthwhile.

“I’m sure if not for these people I would not be able to live in the community and truth be told I don’t think I would be here without them. Words cannot say what these wonderful people do for me and all the people they help in giving up their time so to me to all of you, thank you. Oh, and by the way, 2 – 3 years ago I could not read or write until a very special carer took me to my first class.”

Service Manager, Claire Williams, proudly unmasked two of the ‘heroes’ mentioned as community mental health nurse Sarah Lawson and Community Rehabilitation worker Mary Thomson. She said: ‘It was so lovely to read Richard’s letter where he took the time to write highlighting the fantastic difference that Sarah and Mary have made to him, how much he appreciated their kindness and the sense they were on his side. It makes the job so worthwhile getting this feedback and I totally agree with Richard that Sarah and Mary are heroes.”

The Community Rehabilitation Team provides a specialist and intensive rehabilitation service to support the recovery of adults with complex mental health issues and/or severe and enduring mental health needs who need significant support with their daily living skills. The service delivers personalised programmes of support focussed on addressing and minimising the symptoms and functional impairment that people may have, whilst empowering and re-enabling them to lead as independent and meaningful lives as possible.

Both teams follow the “recovery” approach which values service users as partners in a collaborative relationship with staff to identify and work towards personalised goals. The concept of recovery encompasses the values of hope, agency, opportunity and inclusion

In a year of celebration for all things NHS as it reaches its 70 year anniversary, there is still nothing more poignant for staff than a genuine thank you from someone they are supporting. Supporting people with their mental health can often be an ongoing process and the relationships built between care teams and their patients or service users are key. Find out more about the services Sussex Partnership offer by visiting