Alexandra Cross

I started my journey learning about mental health when I decided to volunteer at a drug and alcohol recovery service in Hertfordshire.

I always knew I wanted to work with people but in what capacity was still unknown to me. I graduated from Bournemouth University with a degree in Psychology, and although I now had a qualification that sounded like I knew what people were thinking at all times, I didn’t have any experience. While working a full time job, I volunteered my time to learn more about people and the struggle around addiction and mental health.

I went on to volunteer in the prison service at HMP The Mount, I supported all male groups, helping prisoners to learn that their anti-social behaviour has damaging effects to the wider community and society as a whole. I went on to work with ex-offenders in the society, engaging with them in probation services to better their life, and reduce their risk of reoffending. I felt passionate about what I was doing and so decided to complete a master’s degree in this field. Birmingham City University obtained my MA in Forensic Psychology.

On completing this I gained a role of working with adult male offenders in HMP Brixton. It was in this role I was trained in personality disorders giving me insight in to understanding how childhood trauma can impact an individual’s life. This is when I decided to flip my career on its head, following the saying prevention is better than cure. I started my role within the NHS in 2017, I joined a child and adolescent mental health service in Hertfordshire focussing on early intervention. I went back to university (again!) and completed a post graduate diploma at UCL in infant mental health. I am passionate about delivering mental health interventions to children, and giving them an opportunity for a brighter healthier future than those I worked with in HMP Brixton.

I met Dan and like everyone else was shocked and horrified at his story. Upon meeting him instantly I felt his enthusiasm and motivation for a happy life for him and his children. I was confused, how could someone be so positive when something so awful has happened, my experience so far had taught me bad things happen to people, and they end up doing bad things. But Dan didn’t fit the mould, he was unusual, he was different, he didn’t want people feeling sorry for him, he had big dreams. Not only has he battled his own mental health journey but he continues the battle against mental health within his children and they get stronger every day. Dan has created “StrongMen” to help and encourage others who have suffered a bereavement, with the message that men DO suffer with mental health problems, that this is ok, they can talk about it, and they DO overcome it. Strongmen has all the tools and passion to make this happen, it will be run on Dan’s infectious positivity and zest for life, and I’m very excited to be a part of it.

Alexandra Cross

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