Well a fairly busy time lately (relative to my usual schedule anyway) and what seemed to offer some kind of opportunity...chance of breaking into a career in the mental health field as a support worker, the exam for my philosophy course, attending the 'Road to Recovery Event' hosted by Rethink Mental Illness in Leeds and successfully registered with Angard Staffing to be a casual worker for the Royal Mail, I'll talk a little bit about each in turn.
Lets start with the support worker bit, I got an interview with a local supported accommodation provider/hospital for women with mental health issues. To start with the person who emailed me the date got it wrong and said it was it the 9th June (a Sunday) when in fact it was scheduled for the 10th, thought it was a bit odd and wasn't surprised when I turned up on the 9th and got told it was for the next day, no matter at least I knew where this place was.
The place itself uses the Biopsychosocial model which is encouraging as it means they look at the people they support in question from more than one angle or approach, altho I don't in-depth knowledge of the model yet I do understand the basic principles of it and is in my intended approach if I ever become a mental health professional.
The interview went very well, I was able to demonstrate how my experiences of mental health gave me the empathy to understand, to a certain extent, what people go through during their experiences of an mental illness, the internal and external obstacles to recovery. Also having the experience of being a service user and working with a support worker gave me some insight to what the latter can do to help the former realise what goals they may set for themselves.
After filling out the health declaration form the two people interviewing me informed I was the best interviewee they had so far but as I had no experience of actually working as a support worker they felt this job would be too big a step for me as a first job in this area, however if I can get six month's volunteering experience then they would definitely have a place for me, the two who interviewed said for me to keep in touch with them as well, so no job but it was a productive exercise and further reinforces the confidence I have about doing interviews as I seem to perform very strongly there.
Angard Staffing, an agency set up by the Royal Mail to handle their recruitment needs contacted me to see if I was still interested in working for the RM (I did previously register interest for the Christmas period but seeing as the DWP offered me full time work first I went there instead) I said I was, interview arranged. Get there and it was pretty standard stuff, checked all my documents and ID, the guy raised two issues, first the picture ID wasn't from a passport or driver's licence but a citizen-card and as the RM are strict about what they accept as picture ID it probably wouldn't be accepted, secondly the change of name deed-poll I supplied (as my surname now is different from birth) wasn't valid he reckoned the person who witnessed and signed the declaration wasn't a police officer or solicitor...he was wrong on both counts.
So they mailed me the zero-hour contract for me which was signed and returned in May...its now July and I've heard nothing from them. Contacted them yesterday and the excuse I got was they tried my landline and couldn't get through and they didn't have my mobile number...evidently the guy at that interview had quite the off day as I supplied my mobile number along with the landline. Urgh feels like a waste of time with this agency but you know might as well stick with it until I can get full time employment again.
The Road to Recovery Event hosted by Rethink Mental Illness in Leeds seemed like a good idea to attend, members of the charity over varying places would be there, they had a psychologist there, basically seemed a an ideal place to get some networking done. That didn't happen and I didn't get a lot out of it which was disappointing, altho it as amusing to see how much of a hammering they gave the DWP. Probably the most productive bit of the event was when we got into groups for the workshops they had and we talked about who we were and why we were there. We had a fair few relatives, friends of people who had mental health issues who were there to get an understanding of this insidious entity 'mental illness' and how they can help those who suffer with it.
In my group we had a housing support worker who was there to get an understanding as he dealt with a number of service users with mental health issues. In particular he was concerned about he should approach the issue of if and when he went with a service user to a an appointment with a psychiatrist, a few of us recounted our experiences and a consistent theme emerged, namely medication and how forceful some psychiatrists (and other mental health professionals) can be about it. Ultimately we told him that while the service user retains the final say on whether they will take medication or not some service users won't have the confidence to challenge any assertion made by an mental health professional about what may the best treatment for them, that he may be able to support them should they feel unsure about it.
Ah, the philosophy exam, this happened the day after my interview for the support worker role so a fairly taxing two days. For this exam I had to answer three questions from ten, I had three hours to do so and had to hope I could actually remember anything I had revised. I'll find out if I passed it or not in August. Do I think I passed it? Not sure, two of the answers I gave I feel were okay, the third wasn't as I simply couldn't remember anything else and I ran out of time so I'm hoping the two answers I gave will be enough to pull me through, if not then its very likely I can re-sit the exam as my coursework scores stayed above 70% all the way through so its grounds enough that I do understand the subjects I'd taken (remembering them is another matter during an exam).
Well also for tomorrow I will be attending some volunteer training on speaking to the public about mental illness (and the stigma attached to it) during an art gallery display by artists who paint to express their experiences of it, this is for the charity MIND and it will be hosted in Leicester in August, should definitely get more out of this than the event I went to in Leeds.
2nd July 2013 the journey continues.