Success Stories by Clients

Too often, persons with mental illness face discrimination in their job search. And there are others who have difficulty taking the first step to rejoin the workforce after the onset of their illness. Here are some success stories of Job Club’s clients who have successfully overcome the odds to empower themselves in the job market. Read and be inspired!

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 I’m back on my feet again! 

Taking the First Step 

Taking the First Step 

Picking Myself Up Despite Trials and Tribulations  Picking Myself Up Despite Trials and Tribulations 
Promoted and Commended at Work – It’s Possible! 

Promoted and Commended at Work – It’s Possible! 

 

I’m back on my feet again!

Taking the First Step 

“I’m back on my feet again!”

The steady stream of customers at the convenience store kept him busy. He juggled between serving them, stocking the goods on the shelves and manning the check-out counter. Looking at Desmond now, one can hardly imagine that he used to struggle with a condition that tormented his mind, cost him his job and created much pain and suffering for his family.

Desmond’s ordeal began in 2001, when he started hearing voices and was overwhelmed with paranoid ideation. Often, he would beat up his father and hurl vulgarities at him because he thought his father was using black magic on him. He even accused his ex-colleagues of plotting against him and was eventually dismissed by his company. Desmond was brought to IMH, where a psychiatrist diagnosed that he was suffering from schizophrenia. His condition stabilised after a month in hospital. Determined to get well, he stuck to his medication and counselling sessions regularly.

Though armed with a Diploma in Quality Survey from a local polytechnic, Desmond faced many obstacles trying to secure a job. “Many companies preferred to hire fresh graduates at a lower pay and that made me feel even more down. With my mental condition, it’s even more difficult to get a job,” said Desmond, who had to dip into his savings to get by.

Upon his psychiatrist’s suggestion, he signed up with Job Club, a vocational rehabilitation service run by IMH to help recovering patients return to the workforce through training and job matching. Within a month, Desmond was offered a job as a retail assistant with a convenience store. Desmond worked six days a week from 8am to 3pm. His duties included restocking the shelves, organising goods and stamping price tags. “I feel happy when I help customers find something they need and they thank me,” said Desmond. Sometimes, regular customers stop by to chat with him and his supervisor had also praised him for getting along well with his colleagues.

To help him adjust to work life, Desmond attended Job Club’s monthly support group. “It’s great that we can share our experiences about how we manage problems at work as we’re all in the same boat.” He is glad that he has managed to reintegrate into society and is gainfully employed. “I hope employers will give people like me a chance. My Job Club friends and I will always try our best.”

Desmond is one of the many patients who have got back on their feet with treatment and support from the hospital, his family and friends. People with mental illness have dreams and aspirations too, and can lead a meaningful life if their conditions are well-managed. Let us give them that much-needed boost so they can have a second chance in life.

Taking the First Step

Taking the First Step 

At 26 and married, Mary looks like a typical Singaporean.

She came to Singapore from China two years ago.  Excited about her new second home and life, she was initially elated.  Little did she know that the stresses of coping with cultural differences and lifestyle changes were creeping into her life.  She started having anxiety issues and was eventually diagnosed with a severe mental illness.

Her world came crashing down when she was told that she needed to be on medication for an extended period of time.  She could not believe this was happening but eventually came to an acceptance with the warm support of her husband and his family.

She spent about one year doing almost nothing every day.  Her usual routine included watching television and surfing the net. It came to a stage where she commented, “Life was quite pointless.”

Deciding to do something about it, she combed through newspapers for jobs.  She even went knocking on doors to ask for employment.  She was unsuccessful after numerous tries.  Her self-esteem plummeted.

Upon recommendations from her psychiatrist, she came to Job Club for assistance.  After much advice and counselling, Mary got her first job in a local food stall selling noodles.

Initially, there were many teething issues. She found it difficult to cope with the job tasks and with interacting with her colleagues.  With the consistent support from Job Club, she managed to stay on the job.

Now half a year into her job, she is on to her next job, which pays her more and demands more customer interaction.

“I am glad for the support that Job Club provides me.  Being able to take the first step out is challenging but important for me.  I am glad that the staff at Job Club believes in me. I would like to say a big thank you to employers and Job Club for providing this valuable opportunity for me.”

(Name has been changed to protect client confidentiality) 

Picking Myself Up Despite Trials and Tribulations

Picking Myself Up Despite Trials and Tribulations 

Upon first impression, Gary seemed like your typical middle-aged Singaporean male.  Having worked extensively in the F&B industry as a cook, Gary was self-sufficient until a sudden onset of severe mental illness in 2005 forced him to stop work.  This came as a huge blow to Gary as he could no longer sustain his livelihood.

As if having a mental illness is not catastrophic enough, Gary has only his brother to turn to for support.  As a result, Gary often received little or no reminders to take his medications for his mental illness.  This caused Gary to suffer from various relapses and had to be subsequently hospitalized. The hospitalization bills added on to the financial pressure that Gary and his brother were facing.

Upon recommendations from his psychiatrist, Gary came to Job Club for assistance.  After much advice and counseling, Gary got a job as a dish collector in a hawker centre.  However, after working for only one day, Gary sustained a serious fall at home and was hospitalised.  The doctor informed him that he is suffering from a rare condition characterised by sudden muscle weakness. Gary did not expect this and was devastated.

Despite the seemingly never-ending trials and tribulations, Gary did not gave up. With a strong belief that he can work, he approached Job Club again. After a detailed assessment of his abilities and careful job matching, Gary was given a job as a kitchen helper.

Now 3 months into the job, Gary is still receiving regular support from Job Club.  His medical problems are also constantly monitored by both doctors and Job Club to ensure that they do not affect his ability to work. Not only does Gary have a stable income now, he has also made new friends at work and is happy with this new-found companionship.

“I feel happy with my life as I am able to work and earn a steady income.  No longer do I have to worry about staying at home all the time and feeling bored. I also made new friends and I enjoy having lunch with them during work. Thank you Job Club for your
help!”

(Name has been changed to protect client confidentiality) 

Promoted and Commended at Work – It’s Possible!

Picking Myself Up Despite Trials and Tribulations 

Anne had her first experience with schizophrenia when she was sixteen years old and consequently had had to undergo treatment for seven years. After her recovery, Job Club aided her in finding a job at a local hypermarket, where she had been working for nearly four years.

“I had a pretty good job,” she said. “I think I managed quite well there. The Human Resource Manager and my supervisor were aware of my mental illness, but they still treated me normally. A lot of my colleagues also knew I was from IMH as well, but they didn’t look at me any differently either – they saw that I could cope with my work, so they didn’t mind.”

“Job Club has a support group for recovered patients who are trying to find employment,” Anne added. “It helps us to understand more about our symptoms, as well as deal with our problems finding employment. We share the difficulties we face in finding jobs, or at the workplace itself, and we encourage each other and give opinions. It helps to have people to talk to about this. Sometimes we get people who are doing well at their work to share their success stories and they’re pretty inspiring. It helps the rest of the support group members gain confidence as well.”

In fact, Anne was promoted in her previous position – she began as a retail assistant and after two years, became a senior retail assistant. She was even listed as employee of the month after eight months of working there. “My boss said I was helpful and good with customers, so she decided to give me an extra bonus for the month.”

“It’s important to understand that mentally ill patients can function just as well as anybody else. Fundamentally, we are no different from normal people except for the need to rely on medication. It’s true that our coping skills will be affected slightly by a mental illness, but as long as we know how to stay positive and have the right attitude, there’s no reason why we can’t do our job. And I think this is something many employers need to understand: that they should accept employees who have recovered from mental illnesses because they are still able to work. The pity is that, most of the time, the attitude towards mental illness in Singapore simply stems from a lack of understanding. And many employers won’t accept you once you tell them you have a history of mental illness. Hopefully we can let employers know that we shouldn’t be discriminated against just because of our mental condition. After all, even normal people can break down too,” she concluded.

Source :   "Caged" by Ad-vocation 
ISBN   978 981 08 7909 9 
e-mail :  ri.advocation@gmail.com