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atWork Australia supports clients to break the cycle of mental health challenges by finding meaningful work

Meaningful job

This October, during Mental Health Awareness Month, atWork Australia is raising awareness of the services and support available to help those living with mental health conditions, to find enjoyable and meaningful employment. The relationship between mental health and unemployment is complex and cyclical, as ill-health can be a cause of unemployment, and unemployment can also cause anxiety or other similar disorders.

People living with mental health conditions face challenges at every step of the employment journey, from looking for work, starting a new job and sustaining meaningful employment. This is a result of many mental health conditions leading to negative self-perception and low self-esteem, causing significant impact on an individual’s belief in their own ability to identify and maintain employment.

Galit Bailey, Psychologist and Principal Advisor, Health and Wellness Services at atWork Australia, said “People who live with anxiety may find interpersonal interaction, like in the workplace, challenging and may therefore consider self-promotion activities and job interviews daunting”.

“Receiving a job offer is both thrilling and overwhelming for people living with mental health difficulties – some are unsure as to whether to disclose their condition to their employer and fear disclosure would be met with stigma, and even impact their longevity at work. In addition, mental health challenges can be expressed differently across cultures, so it’s important to consider how to support individual’s in this cross-cultural communication.”, Galit continued.

Every year, atWork Australia supports tens of thousands of clients living with disability, injury, or health condition, or those who require additional support, to find meaningful work that reflects their interests and goals. Most recently, this includes Tara, 51 years old, who lives with anxiety, depression, and physical limitations, in Shepparton in regional Victoria. As a result of significant family challenges, Tara found it difficult to manage her anxiety and connect with employers who were understanding of her experience.  

With the support of atWork Australia Job Coach, Brad Broadhurst, Tara completed her RSA course to acquire skills that would increase her employment opportunities; supporting Tara to secure a role as Team Member at 7-Eleven in Shepparton, Victoria.

“Even when I struggle to say what I want because of my anxiety; the team is understanding that I might need some space or more time. They weren’t pushy or overbearing, and for someone with experiences like me, that’s really important”, said Tara.

“I had really big ideas but didn’t know how to bring them to life. Brad broke down my goals into smaller, achievable steps to make sure I stayed motivated and kept moving forward. They’ve encouraged me but not pushed me, supporting my boundaries through the whole process”, Tara continued.

atWork Australia offers support to all clients living with mental health conditions through practical and holistic tailored servicing, such as Positivum and group workshops, to help build confidence and enable good mental health. Additionally, atWork Australia Health and Wellness Services are delivered by a team of qualified Allied Health Professionals who provide a client-focused, holistic evaluation, and design individually tailored intervention plans to support clients’ unique circumstances and personal goals. Recognising the added challenges some people face when they start work, counselling support is also available post-placement. These are some of the many ways atWork Australia support their clients and their mental health.

“atWork Australia’s core belief is that work is for everyone. We believe sustainable employment is in itself a mental health intervention, as it enhances overall wellbeing. Here, we endorse a whole-person approach by assisting our clients to explore not only professional barriers to employment, but social and environmental factors too”, said Galit.

To find out more about atWork Australia’s support services, please visit:

atWork Australia has been delivering employment services on behalf of the Australian Government since 2003. From more than 400 locations around the nation, atWork Australia delivers Disability Employment Services (DES), Workforce Australia and ParentsNext, connecting people and business so both can thrive.

Partnering with more than 6700 employers across the country in 2021, atWork Australia placed over 19,000 Australians into meaningful and sustainable employment in 2021, across a diverse range of industries and occupations.

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