This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week, an annual awareness-raising campaign run by the Mental Health Foundation, which is focused on issues around anxiety this year.

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions we can face and Seetec Pluss delivers specialist mental health services through Workfit, a team that helps people dealing with various mental health issues to get the support they need through a one-to-one holistic support package over 16 weeks.

The person-centred support helps develop coping strategies, builds resilience, support and guidance with wellbeing and work life balance, motivating and ensuring selfcare.

Ashling’s journey

One person who has benefited from this support is Ashling Quansah, 60, from Bristol, who joined the Work Fit programme following her long-term mental health conditions, including hallucinations and hearing voices, which were impacting her ability to work. Made worse by stress, she found herself in a cycle of finding and having to leave new jobs. Due to the stress and anxiety of not feeling ready or able to work, her symptoms were becoming increasingly difficult to manage.

In addition to this she found herself trying to enter the workforce as an older person, and before receiving support from the Work Fit team, imagined a future spent on benefits and a state pension.

Personalised advice and support

However, once Ashling began to work with Yvonne Street, a local coach on Work Fit, not only did she get practical advice and support, but a person-centred and holistic approach. This allowed for her to start to think differently and feel fully supported to move forward and into work.

When Ashling found a new role, it was Yvonne’s regular phone calls that kept her focused and feeling supported. So much so, she was able to sustain her new role and feel much more positive about her future in work.

Over the course of four months speaking with Yvonne and helping her with coping techniques, friendly guidance and signposting support, Ashling became calmer, confident and happier, which allowed her to take on new information at work without anxiety and enabled her to feel secure in her new role.

Feeling calm, happy and confident

Ashling said, “I was in a place where I couldn’t even see myself having another job again. I didn’t think I would ever get back into the workplace at 60. I thought my mental health wouldn’t enable me to get there. Yvonne and I had a rapport straight away, she was very warm and real. I went from a state of psychosis to feeling calm, happy and confident. A state that was just right for me to be in when starting a new job.

“Our call every 10 days gave me a goal to focus on and I couldn’t wait for us to talk. I was able to tell her I was coping and that I’d been OK. Work Fit were there for me throughout the training period of my new job and for the time after that, so I gradually grew in confidence, not only in my ability to do the job but in coping with life generally.”

Work fit not only check-in to support participants in the early days of a new job, they can also support with daily wellbeing.

This was evident with Ashling, as Yvonne helped her to set achievable daily walking targets, which meant, Ashling could get fresh air and some steps in every day. These easy to achieve goals gave Ashling a sense of achievement and a positive mindset that ‘was really good for my mental health and set realistic expectations.”

Yvonne Street, Ashling’s Health and Wellbeing coach, commented:

“Over the months we spoke, I could hear in Ashlings voice she had changed, she sounded more confident and much happier. The holistic and remote support Work Fit offer really is life-changing.”

“Empowering people with mental health challenges to find meaningful employment not only improves their self-esteem, sense of purpose and overall wellbeing. It is a crucial step towards creating a more inclusive and supportive society”.

Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual campaign run by the Mental Health Foundation to raise awareness about mental health issues. The theme this year is focusing on anxiety – #ToHelpMyAnxiety – and hoping to increase people’s awareness and understanding. The campaign is also demanding change and improving mental health as a whole and providing an opportunity for those working in the field to showcase their work and progress.

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