Paul finds purpose using his lived experience to help others

Paul is sitting on his balcony couch holding a guitarFor Paul, a career helping people through mentoring, and drawing on his own personal experience with a mental health condition, has been a long-term goal of his.

With a Bachelor of Behavioural Science under his belt, Paul was working for a small manufacturer however, he was determined to find his dream job where his mental health disorder, Bipolar II, was understood and accepted. And, above this, a role where Paul was able to help people in the community.

After seeing an ad online, Paul got in contact with GradWISE and set up a meeting with employment consultant, Chardee. After the initial meeting, Paul felt like he was seen as an individual rather than just a number – an experience he hadn’t had with previous employment provider services.

Chardee helped Paul navigate the Centrelink system so that he didn’t have the pressure of applying for an overbearing number of jobs, and so more time and effort could be spent finding the right role.

“GradWISE gave me the time and direction to look for work that was suitable to me. Being in a graduate focused program meant that I was given appropriate suggestions and referrals for jobs that suited my skill set,” Paul said.

Chardee and Paul also worked on the Neurozone program together, a brain and body optimisation coaching service that GradWISE offers.

Chardee said that “Once Paul started the program I really saw him blossom. By working on his emotional drivers and building himself up, Paul was able to make amazing progress in every area of his life. His involvement in the program was an integral part of the employment journey.”

For Paul, the Neurozone program helped him recognise the path back to successes “knowing what were my strengths and where I needed improvement really helped me create a clear plan. I now have joined a meditation group and exercise every day”, he said.

After an extensive application and interview process, Paul was offered a role as a Consumer Specialist Worker at Southern Adelaide Local Health Network’s Trevor Parry Centre. The centre focuses on mental health rehabilitation and having a lived experience is a prerequisite for the Consumer Specialist Workers position.

Graham, Acting Manager at the Trevor Parry Centre, explained that having a lived experience is essential in order to better understand and engage with residents.

“When working with people who have experienced mental health conditions in their lives, the more you understand a person’s journey and experiences the better equipped you are to provide quality person centred care,” he said.

Paul acknowledges that being passionate about his job makes him a harder, more engaged worker and better at his job.

“It’s important that my work has meaning and that I am contributing to society in a positive way. Assisting people recovering from severe mental health issues transition back into the community has been extremely rewarding,” he explained.

When asked about common misconceptions about disability in the workplace, Graham stated that people living with a disability shouldn’t be overlooked in the hiring process.

“A misconception is that people with a disability may be a burden to your organisation. Instead, hiring people with a disability can bring diversity and value to your team as they have a lot to offer.

“Paul has demonstrated commitment to his role and is a highly valued member of our team, with an abundance of enthusiasm, energy and drive,” he said.

Finding a job through GradWISE where he can use both his lived experience with mental health and behavioural science degree has really shifted Paul’s life and outlook.

“I am proud of who I am again,” said Paul.

 

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