News • 17 Dec 2019

Getting back to work while living with a mental illness

Amanda, from Townsville, who has mental illness, has recently completed a Certificate III in Business Administration and is on track is to re-enter the workforce.

Having bipolar, schizophrenia and anxiety made holding down a job challenging for Amanda, and she wasn’t able to work for many years.

With the support of Open Minds, Amanda set herself goals to learn new skills and eventually re-enter the workforce.

Amanda has already achieved one of her goals, having completed a Certificate III in Business Administration.

Amanda opted to study online, as working in a classroom environment was too much for her.

“I feel a great sense of achievement when studying. I do a lot of my study classes on the weekend,” she said.

Studying has “grounded” Amanda, and completing her Certificate has enabled her to realise her potential.

Her next step towards her goal of re-entering the workforce is to undertake some work experience and complete a typing workshop.

In conjunction with atWork Australia, Amanda has started a placement at a local Townsville business doing office and administration work.

“Amanda has been making great progress during her completion of Certificate III in Business,” said Rebecca Forman, Amanda’s Job Coach from atWork Australia.

“Amanda has also completed two days of a work trial as part of AccessAbility week, and the HR manager stated that Amanda did great.”

Amanda (left) pictured with Clinton (right) from Amanda’s place of work

Other avenues Amanda is pursuing to take control of her mental illness is walking and exercise.

“I actually walked four kilometres this morning!” Amanda exclaimed.

“I walk twice a week and want to do the Balgal Beach walking track soon.”

Much like studying and working, Amanda’s mental illness affects her walking, though it is improving.

“Not only am I walking, I’m carrying my mental disability,” Amanda said.

“Every person I pass is a struggle to smile at.”

Open Minds has been supporting Amanda for two-and-a-half years now and her Support Worker, also named Amanda, has been helping her through the recovery journey.

Amanda said: “I didn’t know I had a comfort zone.”

“It’s really exciting having Amanda [Support Worker] to help me. Things have progressed, we are always achieving things.”

Some hurdles Amanda has jumped thanks to Open Minds is enabling her two children—aged 13 and 19—to stay the night at her home.

“My kids live with my Mum—their grandmother—now, and so having them stay over again made me really happy,” Amanda said.

One of Amanda’s other goals has been to make new and lasting friendships.

She admits her anxiety has prevented her from meeting people but her incredible recovery process has allowed her to make a new friend, Renee—who we met earlier this year.

“She’s lovely, she’s real,” Amanda said.

“We first met at an Open Minds barbeque and now we’re hanging out at least once a week.”

She talked herself out of meeting Renee for the first time but her mother and her Support Worker, Amanda, encouraged it, and she’s glad she did.

Better still, in October, Amanda attended a world record event for most people wearing hi-visibility vests in Townsville, which was in support of World Mental Health Day.

This was a big achievement for Amanda as she doesn’t like being in large groups of people and it’s something she would have never done without the help of her Support Workers.

“Open Minds and the NDIS are fantastic in my eyes,” Amanda said.

“I have never been this blessed.”

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