09 Feb BLOG: Ash’s Story
At Oakleaf, we are always encouraging people to share their stories and experiences in the hope it will encourage others to do the same. We feel it is so important to normalise those conversations surrounding mental health to help reduce stigma within our communities.
We are therefore delighted to share Ash’s Story with you all:
“I was introduced to Oakleaf by my social worker; having been out of the workplace for a few years due to my mental health, I was looking to prepare to return. I was incredibly fortunate that my employer had supported me throughout, and I was looking to return to a role within the department I’d originally worked in.
The role I was going to be taking on involved a lot of data analysis, which before I’d had to take a step away from the workplace was a strength in my skillset. However, whilst I’d check emails on my phone and surf the internet, I hadn’t turned on a computer for years and had to google what a ‘pivot table’ was when someone mentioned it in passing as a function in MS excel.
I was also incredibly nervous about the practical side of work. Having not had a daily routine for a long time, I was worried about having to get up and make my way to work for a particular time on a regular basis. I had also been extremely socially isolated for a long time and having chit-chat conversations with people I didn’t really know was something I was anxious I’d lost the skill for.
When I started going to Oakleaf, I used the IT suite to refresh my MS excel skills, completing the guided course. I re-learnt those lost skills and added some extra ones so I felt a lot more confident walking into work. That boost to my self esteem really helped in the first few days.
There were other things that helped as well. I’d got into the habit of having a routine to go somewhere for particular times and the IT suite was set out like an office, which made that first day slightly less intimidating. I also work in an extremely large, call centre office, and the environment at Oakleaf enabled me to see that I could concentrate when there was background noise from other people interacting, which in a busy office environment can be a challenge!
I also found that I hadn’t lost the art of chit-chat and my genuine interest and empathy for others was still there. All of these things helped me enormously in a practical sense, and in boosting my belief in my ability to get back to work.
I’ve now been back working for around four years and full time for just over three years. In addition to that, I made the step up from a data analysis focused role to a people management role and I believe that Oakleaf’s support really made all the difference in so many aspects of my return to the workplace being successful.” – Ash, Past Oakleaf Client
We can’t thank Ash enough for sharing her story. If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Help is always available. For more information, visit: www.oakleaf-enterprise.org/i-need-help/