Meet A Vocational Specialist | Marathon Health
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Mental health Posted: 07 March 2023

Meet a Vocational Specialist at headspace Dubbo.

“Sometimes these kids just need someone to believe in them; Jess walked out of her second interview securing the job and has been in that role for five months now,” Carole Bayley, Senior Vocational Specialist for the Individual Placement and Support Program (IPS).

Experiencing mental health concerns like anxiety can be debilitating, exhausting and scary. Jess (not her real name) walked into headspace Dubbo; the anxiety that enters the building with her, hangs back like a dark cloud. Unable to speak, Jess handed the IPS team a self-referral note listing the goals she wanted to achieve – her courage to take this next step was inspiring.

That was the Jess that walked into headspace Dubbo under a year ago – today Jess has been employed for six months and is looking to move in with two housemates.

“I honestly didn’t think Jess would be where she is today – she was shy, couldn’t hold eye contact and only left the house once a week,” Carole said.

First trialled in the US, IPS is designed to support young people aged 12-25 to gain independence, expand their life and social skills and assist them in securing employment or getting an education.

“We started very slowly – Jess’s goal was to leave the house and get a job. So, the first task I set was to pick a café to meet at. Over time she then placed her own order and by the end of our catch ups she ordered for everyone.”

After a few months Jess progressed to applying for accounting roles and attending job interviews. Carole assisted with the application process, resume writing, coaching and interview practice and drove Jess to and from her interviews. Carole also had the opportunity to speak to the employer, prior to the interview, about Jess’s anxiety. As a vocational specialist Carole is there for Jess every step of the employment process.

Not successful in her very first interview, Jess didn’t give up, “I was so proud of her because while she wasn’t successful in her first interview, she had built her confidence and social skills up to attend the second interview alone, while I waited in the car,” Carole smiled.

The IPS program was originally trialled in 24 headspace sites across Australia, but because of its ongoing success, its service model is now offered in 50 centres.

“What makes my job so rewarding is seeing the clients take back their life from mental illness – finding strength to keep moving forward.”

The IPS program collaborates with the centre’s Youth Care Coordinators and Psychologists to ensure each client is safe, happy, and kicking goals. It’s the combination of each team member that makes the IPS program so successful.

“It’s clients like Jess and growth like hers – these are the moments we work for,” Carole said with a big, infectious smile.

The dark cloud that walked in with Jess that day is a little less grey now, since taking that first step into a headspace centre.

Page last updated: 15 November 2023

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