Care runs in the family – Zoe is our NHS Hero

After growing up with both her parents working as mental health nurses, it came as no surprise when Zoe Vale (44) became interested in following the same path.

Zoe’s journey in the NHS started in 1995 when she joined Russells Hall Hospital as a general nurse, before transferring to the accident and emergency department at Selly Oak Trauma Hospital.

“It was whilst working at Selly Oak that my interest in mental health really took hold,” explained Zoe.

“My parents were both mental health nurses, so I suppose I did always have an interest through their work, but whilst working in the trauma unit during the 90s, it was clear that services needed to improve for mental health and I wanted to try and be part of this.”

Zoe undertook additional training and qualified as a registered mental health nurse in 2001, working in areas such as forensic psychiatry, early intervention and primary care.

“After working in a few different areas of mental health, I decided to specialise and become a cognitive behavioural therapist,” said Zoe, who works in the Dudley Talking Therapies Service team at Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnerships NHS Trust.

“We work with individuals to overcome their difficulties, offering treatment for common mental health conditions such as; depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, specific phobias, OCD and anxiety.”

A typical week for Zoe consists of initial telephone assessments to help people identify their current difficulties and goals for recovery. She then recommends the most appropriate intervention or service to meet these needs.

Zoe explained: “This includes things such as 1:1 appointments, delivering cognitive behavioural therapy around Dudley, therapeutic groups and peer support. Having a range of interventions can really help facilitate recovery.”

It’s clear from speaking to Zoe that she is incredibly passionate about her job and has a real drive to support people through difficult times.

“I enjoy meeting lots of different people,” smiled Zoe.

“Each person’s journey is different and helping them with their progression is really rewarding. I also enjoy working with a great bunch of people, who all want to make a difference to the lives of others.”

Zoe now plans to complete further training in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which will further enhance her skills as a therapist.

Outside of work, Zoe enjoys spending time with her two children, walking her dogs, playing the cello and going on holidays.

“I enjoy going to Scotland or the Lake District,” said Zoe. “I used to love mountain walking, but more recently a walk around the park is just as good!”

So who is Zoe’s hero?

“Edith Cavell. She was a nurse during the First World War and assisted all soldiers regardless of which side they fought for. She was a brave lady who preserved life at all costs.”

Zoe’s mental health message: “Mental health is an illness that with the correct tools can be overcome. Don’t suffer in silence…there are people able to assist you on your journey just a phone call away.”