5 steps that helped me start my career in mental health.

Wanting to work in mental health is often driven by the passion to create change, well, at least for me it was. I started this pathway with the desire to be the change I wish to see and I continue to live by that. Having seen the good, the bad and the ugly of mental health and health care in general, choosing to embark on this new pathway was something I needed to do.

I never once thought it would be easy, with my past education and work experience within arts and crafts, embarking on something that seemed way too academic for me definitely came with doubts and worries. I may not have believed in my academic abilities but I did believe in my passion and determination. I will forever be grateful for my inner stubborn five year old self, who truly believes if she wants to do something, she will do it. I guess that brings me to step one.

1. Believe in yourself, believing in yourself is up there with the most easiest things to say but most difficult things to do. I have always struggled with self-belief and although I am much better at it than before, it is something I continuously have to practice. I find it almost natural to have self-doubt, to pin point all things I cannot do, instead of the things I can do, but knowing the benefits of self-belief, paired with the stubbornness of my inner child, I find it. I find the voice within me that says ‘I CAN’. Looking at what I can do, over what I cannot and letting that self-belief grow, believing I can make a difference.

2. Learn, like I have said in many posts before, a lot of my self-doubt comes from my childhood and the mental health and learning differences I have faced, often felt more whilst I was in school, leading me to develop such a negative view on my academic abilities and skills. However, with that self-belief and knowing it is never too late, I went back to university to study Health and Social Care. I was extremely lucky with a huge part of my degree at Glyndwr focusing on mental health and wellbeing, I learnt a lot, not only helping my knowledge and skills grow specifically into this area but also meaning I was extremely interested and passionate about all I was learning. Glyndwr University now have specific degrees on mental health and wellbeing, so if you are looking to learn more or to start a career in mental health, definitely go see what is there.

I think it is important to know that university or any formal education for that matter is not for everybody and that is fine, there are so many ways we can learn and finding what is right for you is important. Also, taking specific training courses has been very beneficial when applying for jobs, as well as being extremely beneficial in day to day life.

3. Volunteer, volunteering has helped me in many many ways and one of those ways has been allowing me to put my knowledge and skills into practice. Finding local or national mental health charities, organisations, services or campaigns to be involved with is a great way to build experience, find out if this sector is right for you and give you a whole range of skills. Personally, I have found volunteering at various charities and organisations such as Advance Brighter Futures, Time to Change and creating my Fixers project, has given me such a boost in my confidence and self-belief.

4. Try, try and try again, if you remember my ‘Unemployed & Rejection’ post, picking myself back up and trying again is definitely something I struggled with. Trying to believe that ‘if it is not meant to be it just is not meant to be’ and ‘one door closes another door opens’, is hard when it feels like all the doors are closed but all you can do is keep trying and trying. When trying and trying seems to difficult, take a break, put trying on pause and come back to it later. After all the job sites I visited and application forms I filled out, a break was definitely needed.

5. Be kind to yourself, finding any form of employment is difficult, it can really bring you down and have such a negative impact on your health and wellbeing but being kind to yourself and knowing that no matter what, health must come first is so important. Be kind to yourself and remember that although it feels like it sometimes, there is no time limit on building a career, finding a job you love or moving as fast as others, try not to compare.

From volunteering with local charities to employment with B-eat and now Time to Change, I hope this is just the beginning of my career within mental health but I felt it maybe useful to share this from where I currently am because who knows what the future holds. Whether you are hoping for a career in mental health, health or something completely different I hope this post helps a little.

Thank you for reading,

Nicole

Here are a few of the websites I found helpful: Charity Job, Charity Job Finder (Wales), Prospects, Volunteer & employment role search websites (often regional).

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