Story: Simon & Chris

Simon is 25 and lives in East London. Since experiencing a period of psychosis four years ago, he has found it difficult to rebuild his confidence and social life. He was referred by his occupational therapist, who thought he would benefit from the support a mentor could offer him.

Interested in pursuing a career in the art and design industry, Simon wanted a mentor who he could talk to about his college work and educational decisions.

In December 2006 Simon first met Chris and they now meet up every couple of weeks to chat about how things are going.

It's been good meeting up with Chris. He's a bit like a role model, he's really experienced, informative and I've learnt a lot about what he does, which has been really interesting. He works in Liverpool Street which I admire, I've always admired people who work there.

When we've met up, I come back feeling inspired and extra confident, it's really helped with my social skills. I don't have many friends and it's made a difference having Chris to talk to. I feel much more confident about going to new places, I've now been to lots of art galleries, like the Tate Britain and Modern, which I wouldn't have done before.

It is good that Chris is just a regular guy, a normal person with a job, and not working in mental health. It makes a difference that he's doing it out of his own will and isn't an expert, he's different to talk to and his experiences give me a different view of things.

We usually meet at a café every other week and talk things through. Chris works for a big bank in human resources, and he once took me into his office after hours, which was really cool, we got to wander around the city and look at the buildings and offices, it was really fun to see.

He has changed my view about what options are available to me, and will talk through things with me when I've got a decision to make. I was trying to decide what to study next year; I've just finished a painting and drawing course to build up my portfolio to study art, but I was also thinking about sociology. Chris' sister now works in social care so it was good way of finding out a bit more about it. I've decided to stick with art for the time being and am looking at courses to start in September.

I've been volunteering at Help the Aged, using my IT skills to teach people how to use computers. I was really nervous to begin with but now I really enjoy it. It's great to be around different people and it makes me more confident in my ability to do and experience new things.