Sometimes people have taken the view that being in work is stressful, indeed too stressful if you are experiencing a mental health difficulty. These people have obviously never been unemployed for long because there is a vast amount of evidence which shows that being unemployed, with all the associated difficulties, creates more stress than when people are in paid work. Therefore work is great for improving mental health and sense of wellbeing!
At Cornerhouse in January Richmond Fellowship facilitated a 2 week intensive Work Preparation Course to support people with a mental health diagnosis to consider the issues that arise when going back to work.
Core objectives were to create a current C.V., understand and have experience in completing application forms (hard copy and online), writing covering letters, speaking on the telephone to enquire about vacancies, where to job search, interview skills and the benefits of doing voluntary work.Other softer objectives were to explore what makes for good workplace etiquette, communication, managing work/life balance, assertiveness. We also explored how to disclose a mental health disability and be protected under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
We had some fun amongst all this serious work, and relaxation using visualisation and breathing techniques was practiced to assist in reducing anxiety – useful when coping with pre-interview nerves!
7 people attended the course, and benefited from, the combined knowledge and experience of 9 highly trained Richmond Fellowship Employment Advisors at various stages over the two weeks.
Pauline Hedges from Surrey Chamber of Commerce came along to help give mock interviews. Pauline is part of the Department of Work and Pension’s Stepping Stones program and is working to link service users and mentors in real workplace settings. The aim is to give people the benefit of a mentors experience and guidance in job searching, interviewing and maintaining paid work.
Richmond Fellowship is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year of supporting people with mental health needs to live and work successfully within their local communities. Richmond Fellowship deliver individual, one to one, employment support throughout Surrey and accept self-referrals or referrals from other organisations e.g. CMHT’s , G.P. , support groups and so on.
We will be running similar Work Preparation Courses regularly throughout the year at Cornerhouse and in Leatherhead.
If you would like support to find and keep paid work or advice on problems you may be experiencing in your current employment and would welcome some ongoing information, advice and guidance then please call our West Surrey helpline on: 0845 250 0053 and we can arrange for you to meet an Employment Advisor in your area. You could also visit our website to find out more about us and get a referral form at: www.richmondfellowship.org.uk