I am Caroline. I am an occupational therapist and I work in the Better 2 Work team, supporting people to gain or retain paid employment.
I work with people with severe and enduring mental illness who access 2gether’s community or inpatient mental health services and want to find a paid job or who might be finding it difficult to keep the job they have.
Supporting people who experience mental illness to find and keep paid work is a really important priority, both locally and nationally, and evidence suggests that having the right job can be beneficial to health and wellbeing.
As an occupational therapist working as an employment specialist, I bring my specialist skills to understanding a person and how their illness impacts on the things they want to do and need to do. This means I can support clients to find a job which has the right fit with their interests, values, habits and strengths and which is within an environment that supports their continued recovery.
Every day is different in my role and what I do depends on the kind of support a person needs. This can involve small things to get them started or the whole kit and caboodle! I provide support with job seeking, job applications, liaison with the Job Centre and Department of Work and Pensions, interview practice and support when starting work.
Job retention is a really important part of what we do in the Better 2 Work team; the demands of work can be tough and even harder to manage with a mental illness. Working with employers to educate them about how best to support a person to stay well in work or come back after a break is really rewarding. Helping employers to think creatively about how they can make reasonable adjustments and help tackle stigma in the workplace really supports people to stay in work roles they value, which supports recovery.
And it doesn’t end there. I can provide support for as long as a person needs it to manage the constant challenges that working life throws at them, be it time management, juggling priorities or finding ways to work with tricky colleagues!