City psychologist and student nurse Yvonne Fleming has been named Bipolar Scotland’s volunteer of the year for her work developing a “game-changing” course to help people come to terms with their mental illness.
At 42 years of age, Capital resident Yvonne has already flirted with a number of professions. But after graduating from Napier University with a degree in psychology and sociology in 2010, she decided to explore mental illness and how it affected people.
Her fascination with the subject stemmed from her own experience.
“I have suffered from depression in the past, and so it’s something I’ve always been very interested in,” she explained.
“With my background in psychology and sociology, and working with children as well, I thought I might have something to offer by way of helping people discover more about their condition, and how to come to terms with the side-effects that come along with it.”
After a successful placement with Bipolar Scotland, a mental health charity based in Paisley, Yvonne decided to join the non-profit group full-time.
She made it her first monumental task to develop a self management training programme for the charity in order to assist people with bipolar disorder to manage their condition.
“So much of managing the disorder is simply understanding how it personally affects you,” she said.
“This course is all about bringing people together so that they can share about their condition in a safe environment.”
The course proved so successful that it is still going strong four years later.
Although Yvonne has since returned to Napier University to study full-time nursing, she still volunteers her time as the lead facilitator of the course.
“I wouldn’t have dreamed of helping them to come up with this course and then just walk away,” she said.
Because of her dedication, Bipolar Scotland’s chief executive, Alison Cairns, said Yvonne was a stand-out candidate for the award.
“She works tirelessly for us, and is also an excellent social media ambassador for Bipolar Scotland,” Alison said.
For her work with Bipolar Scotland, Yvonne was also recently short listed as a finalist in the Self Management Champion category of the Alliance Scotland’s self management week awards.
And whilst Yvonne says she’s been “absolutely thrilled” to be recognised for her work with the charity, what keeps her coming back for more each week is the knowledge that she’s able to make a difference in people’s lives.
“Just being able to sit down and share with people and play a role in helping them learn about themselves is simply amazing,” she said. “I love every minute of it.”