Anita’s case highlights the mental health issues facing workers and employers

 In Home News Section, Uncategorized

When you need a job but you suffer from a mental illness, the career path is not straightforward.

When Anita Fourro found herself struggling to manage a stressful job while raising three teenagers, she developed anxiety and depression, and eventually suffered a breakdown.

Ms Fourro, from Rosebery, about 26 kilometres south-east of Darwin, said she felt she had no choice but to resign from her job of three years to focus on regaining her health.

“My depression kicked in hard. I ended up having a really rough couple of months and I left,” she told  .

Ms Fourro’s employer tried to persuade her to stay, but she said she needed time to seek help.

“They don’t really have any policies or procedures in place to assist with the mental side of things. They don’t understand enough,” she said.

“And there’s not enough assistance for businesses who want to help people that have a mental issue

“It’s hard when you say to your boss, ‘Look, I just can’t handle today and I need to go home’. And they say, ‘But we really need you here’.

“They couldn’t really bend much of their rules.

“But it gets to a point where you can’t give enough of yourself to the job.

“You’ve got to let it go, or they’ve got to let you go.”

Baby steps

Ms Fourro’s advice to employers is to have a counsellor or a general practitioner available to staff.

Although she worked on and off for two years, Ms Fourro spent months idle and eventually contacted a job agency specialising in mental health issues.

“I was at the end of my tether. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to go,” she said.

The agency assigned her a coach and helped her work on her basic language and social skills.

“And that was a big thing for me, I was really struggling to just go out and talk to anybody really,” she said.

Best gig in the house

Ms Fourro now has a job in the bakery and dessert section of the kitchen at the Centre for National Resilience in Howard Springs.

“I’m absolutely loving it,” she said.

“Everybody loves the food.”

She is about to start a certificate III in commercial cookery, aiming for a certificate in baking.

“I feel more comfortable within myself. I’m a lot happier with where I’m going and what I’m doing with my time.

“I feel like I’m finally achieving something for myself. Not just my family.”

And her advice for anyone in a similar situation?

“Find those people, whether it be friends, family, co-workers, employment agencies, counsellors, but anyone who you can talk to.

“And never give up on trying to be what you want to be.”

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports 1 in 5 Australians has a mental illness, and the figure is increasing.

A little help from my friends

Ms Fourro’s job coach was Amber Patten from disability employment services provider AimBig.

“We had to build up her self-esteem so that she could find work that made her happy, fulfilled, and want to go to employment opportunities,” Ms Patten said.

“We’ve got to help the person find the correct job, the correct employer that can assist, and make sure that it’s not going to exacerbate the symptoms and make them recoil.”

Ms Patten said resilience in candidates was a skill that could be learned.

“So they’ve got things installed that can help them overcome the fear, so that they can learn to breathe, and build up and overcome that barrier,” she said.

Ms Fourro also has a support network once she’s in the job, to make sure she has everything she needs.

‘You’re missing out’

Saltbush Employment Services indigenous employment program mentor Aron Brydon works with various employment agencies, charities, and businesses to get people to stay in jobs.

“Anything’s possible with the right support,” he said.

“Anita came in with an extremely positive attitude. And she’s really keen to work and prove her skills and confidence.”

Mr Brydon said employing Indigenous people was a two-way street.

“Tapping into Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people in your workplace is a big gap at the moment,” he said.

“If you’re not doing it, you’re missing out. You’ve got to catch up with the times.”

(Original ABC Article)