Amid the relentless challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, one woman’s resilience and the unwavering support she received have transformed her life, leading Jennifer Harris on a remarkable journey from business loss to a new career back at school.
After being forced to close her business, Jennifer was on the verge of losing everything she had worked for. And, the aftermath had impacted the most important thing in life; her health. At fifty-five years old, the heartache and pain of watching everything she had worked for disappear resulted in Jennifer experiencing a nervous breakdown.
Upon reflection, Jennifer explained that because of the severity of her mental health, she could barely leave her bedroom for about 12 months. However, she realised this could not go on, something had to change. Jennifer said, “I had no choice, I needed to find work and just had to push past my anxiety.”
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 43.7 per cent of Australians age between 16-85 have experienced a mental disorder at some stage in their life. This includes a significant amount of the current workforce. It is important for employers to understand, that a person who has experienced a mental health disorder can be an exceptional employee, when given the right support, just like Jennifer.
In an attempt to return to the workplace, Jennifer had to overcome her panic attacks and her fear of leaving the house. Jennifer said, “Luckily, I connected with atWork Australia. I had a really good Job Coach who was understanding and willing to work with my barriers.” atWork Australia are a leading employment services provider, supporting people living with disability, injury, health conditions or disadvantaged to find meaningful and lasting employment.
Jennifer and her Job Coach, Rhiannon, discussed her experience, passions, and employment goals. Rhiannon knew of an opportunity in a school canteen with one of atWork Australia’s key employer partners, Rory’s School Lunches. Jennifer stated, “When the job came up, my Job Coach believed in me and encouraged me to apply, so I did. I went to the interview and they offered me the supervisor position.”
Jennifer loves being back in the workplace, she enjoys interacting with kids and leading her own team. atWork Australia Job Coach, Rhiannon, said, “From the first time I met Jennifer, her confidence has continued to grow. I am so glad to see her doing well in her new role.”
Jennifer explained that, returning to work has given her a sense of purpose and allowed her to move on from her traumatic past. When asked what her advice would be for others in similar situations, Jennifer said, “I think sometimes you just have to take a chance, you never know unless you try, and you might surprise yourself. I really had to push through in the beginning. Although, my second term of work was 90 per cent better than the first term.”
atWork Australia work with clients, not only through support that can help an individual overcome their barriers like Jennifer has, but through practical and financial support to receive the right training or education that will build skills to lead to sustainable employment.
To find out more about atWork Australia’s support services, visit: www.atworkaustralia.com.au.