Although it is difficult to quantify the impact of working on personal identity, self-esteem and social recognition, many Mental health professionals now agree that a workplace environment that does not overwhelm the individuals physical or emotional response by not matching capabilities, resources or needs, can have significant positive effects on a person's mental well being and mindset.
Many go so far as to say that employment has been shown to be one of the most effective ways of promoting mental health in the unemployed. In a world that has easy access to medication and psychosocial programs, access to meaningful and realistic employment will aid recovery and lead to more socially and personally satisfying lives.
A great number of unemployed people want to contribute to their own lives and their community, but struggle to find equal opportunities due to environmental, access, legal, institutional and attitudinal barriers leading to further social exclusion and worsening mental health. For those who have fallen out of work, incidences and prevalence of depression increase.
An exposure to the welfare system in any economy will alter and limit an individuals mindset and beliefs, making it increasingly harder to find work, and more challenging to move away from the 'comfort' of the benefits system.
Promoting mental wellness
Realistic and engaging employment provides five categories of experience that promote mental wellness in an individual.
- Time Structure (an absence of structure can be a huge mental burden)
- Social contact
- Collective effort and purpose (work offers a social context outside the family/friends)
- Social identity (employment is an important element in self-definition)
- Regular activity (organising of daily life)
Work is at the very core of contemporary life for most people, providing financial security and the independence to explore one's interests, personal identity and gives the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution.
Combining an extensive experience in employment and vocational guidance with Cognitive Behavioural techniques, I aim to bring about a proactive change in the approach to work for the people I support.
Moving away from benefits and into a self-sustaining situation can be overwhelming for many and once overwhelmed, the stress response prevents the individual from moving forward no matter how many jobs they apply for or CV's they adjust.
By focusing on skills and abilities rather than symptoms and disabilities, we concentrate on the area of activity the individual can flourish in. Assessing and adjusting limiting beliefs, rules and assumptions, the aim is to accelerate the individual toward the goal of work, a central part of their social rehabilitation.
I have been working in Welfare to Work for over 15 years for a range of organisations from both prime contractors to the third sector. My clients have always enjoyed a supported return to work, with engaged and involved employers, to ensure they sustain the changes once made.