Mental Health Support

July 31, 2017


Browsing through The Independent last week I came across an article by the UK Council of Psychotherapy stating that severe anxiety and depression are on the increase as a result of the cuts to the welfare budget. 

It is not surprising that anxiety and depression are on the up as being out of work and receiving benefits can be tough - financially and psychologically.  Being in work has a big part to play in people’s lives and that’s where I come in as an Employment Support Officer at YourMK.  My role is to provide support, information, advice and guidance to people whose mental health has become a barrier to being in work. Making work accessible to people with mental ill health is something I have a passion for and strongly believe in.  The Mental Health Foundation has said that two of the most important factors on the road to recovery from mental illness are “satisfying work” and “financial security” ( https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/r/recovery).  And that makes sense: being employed can help people recover from the severe anxiety and depression associated with being out of work and in receipt of benefits.

On a typical day, I have 4 or 5 people booked into my diary.  Some may be new, so I introduce the service and discuss ways they can be supported into employment.  Others will be returning to have more practical assistance such as updating their CV or applying online for a job.  One of my most recent “successes” is supporting a lady with application for a major retailer.  Following shortlisting she was invited for an interview where I helped her prepare.  We carried out a mock interview and discussed ways of answering questions.  I contacted her later in the week to see how the interview went and she was delighted to tell me that they had offered her the post.  It is very rewarding to hear good news of this sort and one of the reasons why I do the job.  Helping and supporting someone to achieve their goals, like finding employment, gives me great personal satisfaction, knowing I have assisted in making a difference to someone’s life.

A frequent question I get asked as an Employment Support Officer is “how do I tell an employer about my mental health?”  The trouble with this is that there is no right or wrong answer!  Talking about your mental health with an employer is a personal choice.  There are laws in place to protect people from mental health discrimination, but I understand how people can be worried.  So they have to judge when the time is right or whether to tell them at all.  It is worth remembering that 1 in 4 people will experience some form of mental illness during their lifetime, so the likelihood is that 25% of any workforce will be suffering from mental ill health – you are not alone.

If you would like to find out more about the employment support service dedicated to mental health and how it can help you find work then visit the Your MK website https://yourmk.co.uk/your-job-club, email nep@milton-keynes.gov.uk or telephone 01908 252323.