Leche Fromme was working as a mental health carer when she mapped out a pathway to achieving a Bachelor of Social Work - she didn’t let her lack of an ATAR hold her back.
What led to your decision to enrol in the Diploma of Community Services?
Since I was a 16 year old I hoped to become a social worker. I had an interrupted education so I did not complete high school and therefore I did not have the opportunity to apply for Uni.
At age 31 I decided that it was now or never to study social work. I applied for the diploma to gain the counselling and sociology skills that would assist me to study social work in the near future.
How easy was it to find a job when you graduated, and do you have any advice for identifying organisations that are a good match for your values?
I feel quiet blessed that I was employed by headspace three months after completing my diploma.
I am very lucky that I can go to work every day as an individual working for an organisation that shares my values.
My advice for anyone looking to enter the industry is to look for an organisation that aligns with your values and ethics. You can do this by online research, reading mission statements and talking to people already working in the industry.
Tell us a bit about headspace and how they support youth at risk
Headspace provides early intervention mental health services to 12 to 25 year olds. This includes four main areas: mental health, physical health, work and study support and alcohol and other drug services
I work in the digital work and study service at the national office. Our team support young people with mental health difficulties who are looking to make the transition into work or study.
Is there such a thing as a typical day at work you for?
Working as a Digital Work and Study Specialist never has a typical day as such. The nature of supporting young people with mental health difficulties is never predictable.
An average day for me is spent supporting young people with any vocational goals they may have to transition into work or study.
This could be discussing any vocational or non-vocational barriers to employment, resume and cover letter building, motivational interviewing and assistance with job applications or career planning to name a few.
A large part of my role is risk screening and referring to our clinician as appropriate where risk is identified. I work collaboratively with headspace clinicians and our centre clinicians. The digital work and study team has its very own clinician and consulting with our clinician is paramount to working holistically and collaboratively. This will ensure that the young person receives the most appropriate support.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?
The most satisfying part of my role is seeing the positive change in the young people. The best part of my day is when I speak to a young person who now feels happy within themselves.
Often I will have a young person who has come to our service lacking the confidence to pursue their chosen career path or job. It is really rewarding when three months later they are happily working or studying in the industry they have chosen.
Seeing the change in the young person’s outlook on life once they become employed or start studying is remarkable. I find it rewarding to see the shift in the young person’s overall well-being.
What are some of the challenges you face working in mental health?
The biggest challenge I face in the mental health space is the unfortunate stigma that still exists around mental health. This stigma stops so many young people feeling comfortable to access mental health services. The negative explanatory model often stops young people receiving early intervention services.
If you are a young person aged between 12-25 and need information relating to general mental health, physical health, work & study and drugs & alcohol you can visit headspace.org.au for free advice. Headspace has centres located throughout Australia staffed with people who are trained and ready to help. If there isn't a headspace centre near you, you can get online chat and telephone support through eheadspace.
Story: Tamara Grigg