Mental health nurse reveals how he found way out of 'the prison of the stuttering world'

Kirklees nurse hopes others can find inspiration in his story ahead of International Stuttering Awareness Day

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Community mental health nurse Michael Batley.

When Michael Batley dropped out of university in 2003 he feared his stutter had got the better of him.

Unable to complete the presentations or communicate with course mates on his advertising degree at Huddersfield University, he walked away not knowing what life would offer him.

His struggles did not end.

After having an epiphany that mental health nursing was the career for him, his confidence was shredded when a course mentor told him he had chosen the wrong career.

He scraped through and in 2010 decided it was time to tackle his stutter, enrolling on the McGuire programme that has helped so many, including Bradford pop star Gareth Gates.

Ahead of international stuttering awareness day on October 22, Michael is urging others who suffer stutters and stammers to tackle their speech problems.

Now a successful community mental health nurse in Kirklees, Michael said he wanted to give hope to other people with stutters, that they can overcome adversity.

"I have stuttered ever since I can remember," he said.


Community mental health nurse Michael Batley.

Community mental health nurse Michael Batley.

"I struggled through school and employment.

"I was a student at Huddersfield University, however due to the course relying largely on oral presentations and verbal communication, I found that I could not cope with this and left the university life.

"I walked away due to a fear of failing the course because of anxieties around my speech impediment and being unable to match the communication skills of my peers."

Five years later Michael took the plunge in another course, training to be a mental health nurse at Leeds University.

He said: "Early on in this experience, I realised that I had found the dream job, and thought that an opportunity to cancel out the failure of my previous experience at university was achievable.

"However in my second year, I was told by a mentor that I had chosen the wrong career and very nearly failed my placement because of my stutter.

"I was told that my stutter would always be a factor, and that nobody would be able to take me seriously as a nurse.

"After fighting my case and pointing out that I had achieved my competencies, my mentor gave me 'the benefit of doubt' and 'prolonged the inevitable' by passing me.

"Demoralised, defeated and disheartened, I looked for help."

Michael enrolled on the McGuire programme, a therapy run by people who stutter, to help people who stutter.

He said: "Realising that the prospect of continuing my dream job was hanging by a thread, I joined the programme, and never looked back.

"Although not promising a cure, it promised that with hard work and commitment, a way out of the prison of the stuttering world was possible."

The course worked and Michael has now had a long career in his the profession he loves.

He said: "For eight years I worked as a mental health nurse on a psychiatric intensive care unit, before achieving a career-long ambition of working in the community, being promoted and working with over 65 year olds.

"I believe I am lucky to have found help when I needed it the most.

"I was written off by someone who should have been supportive and without this help it is not certain in what direction my life would have gone.

1% of the population are believed to have a stutter.

International Stuttering Awareness Day is on October 22.