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Posted on Feb 21 2023 by Fiona Bailey

A former Healthcare Assistant has spoken of his “joy” at becoming a mental health nurse a job which he says gives him “goosebumps and happy tears” some days.

Steve Medcraft, who has overcome crippling dyslexia and trying personal circumstances to achieve his dream of becoming a registered nurse at St Andrew’s Healthcare, admits the job can be “challenging” but also “very fulfilling”.

As part of Mental Health Nurses Day, an annual campaign to celebrate and praise those who do the job, Steve has explained how and why he chose to work within the field of mental health.

He said: “You could say nursing found me, well mental health nursing that is. My dad was a drug addict who became clean but then became an alcoholic. My mum left us when I was 11 so I had to grow up fast and look after my dad.

“Sadly, my dad passed away, that’s when my mental health journey really started. I worked as a Senior Healthcare Assistant (HCA) for many years knowing that I could become a great nurse.

“However, I was scared of going to university because I have dyslexia and I also left school at a young age with few qualifications. I was scared of the academic side of the work, but once I made that decision to go to university, I never looked back.” 

Steve attended university as part of the St Andrew’s Healthcare ASPIRE programme which is provided for people, just like Steve who would like to become a nurse, while already working within the sector.

When asked why he has remained at the Northampton-based charity for 20 years, Steve said: “For me it’s the patients. Sure, you will have bad days that will leave you questioning yourself, maybe even reduce you to tears sometimes. But you will also have some really, really great days. Days that make that will leave you with goosebumps, smiles and even happy tears. 

“Mental health nursing is so rewarding and I love it as it gives me hope and contentment every single day. For anyone who may be considering a career in the field, then do it. Follow your dreams, but I would recommend not jumping straight into university first. Get some experience within mental health, make sure it is the career for you first, and then sign up.”

St Andrew’s Healthcare’s Chief Nurse Andy Brogan, has been a mental health nurse for more than 40 years.

He said: “Mental health nursing is a challenging job, and Steve is quite right when he says there are sometimes challenging days. But, I’ve been in the field for a very long time and the rewarding moment complete supersede any of the negative moments.

“Here at St Andrew’s we’re in the business of giving our patients hope and we wouldn’t be able to do that without the dedicated and loyal workforce that we have here. It takes a special kind of person to become a nurse, but it takes an exceptional human to be a mental health nurse.

“To all those mental health nurses out there doing the job, please remember how valued you are and what a vital role you play in the recovery journey of all your patients.”

For anyone who is interested in becoming a Healthcare Assistant or Nurse at St Andrew’s Healthcare click here to find out what opportunities are currently available or email