"I want to see children’s emotional wellbeing be given as much attention as their physical health and to provide services quickly and effectively for those who need them.”
Ruth Hillman has been working as Service Director for Sussex Partnership’s Children and Young People’s Services since 2015, but her career with the NHS spans 25 years.
At the age of 19 and in need of a job, Ruth joined the NHS Bank and started work as a temporary member of admin staff in East Sussex. Whilst working as a secretary, other opportunities within the organisation came up and over the following few years Ruth worked in Learning Disability Services, Paediatrics and Children Services, in a variety of different roles, and later became the admin lead for East Sussex Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
Having proved her abilities, Ruth was offered a secondment working as Service Manager for East Sussex CAMHS – and at the time, was the only non-clinical manager who was managing a clinical team. Ruth later became Deputy Service Director of Hampshire CAMHS in 2011, and then returned to Sussex in 2015 to what is now her current role.
We asked Ruth why she chose to work in mental health: “I really believe in the importance of positive emotional wellbeing and mental health and have enjoyed being part of a movement that continues to raise the profile and develop services for people who might otherwise be unheard.
“I enjoy being part of something bigger than me. I want to see children’s emotional wellbeing be given as much attention as their physical health and to provide services quickly and effectively for those who need them.”
We asked Ruth why she has chosen to stay in the NHS for so long: “Nothing else has ever interested me enough to leave! I have had the privilege of working with fantastic colleagues and mentors, who have been really supportive. Working in a multidisciplinary team has given me access to so much knowledge and experience that I would not have had working anywhere else.”
We asked why the NHS is so special and we are so lucky to have it: “It is accessible for everyone. It does not exclude or discriminate. And equally as a career – everyone who works in the NHS gets opportunities to develop themselves and receive training.
“During my time working here, I have been lucky enough to have been supported through two post graduate courses, as well as being given flexible working hours to work around my children.
“I have never felt pressured to choose between family or my career – I have been lucky enough to be able to have both, and have never felt like I have missed out on anything.”
As we celebrate the NHS’s 70th birthday, we asked Ruth what her hopes are for the next 70 years: “We still haven’t cracked that mental health is as important as physical health – one really cannot exist without the other so my hope is that these will become of equal importance in healthcare in the very near future.”