Leighton has embarked on a journey of personal growth and triumph throughout his time with Mylestones Employment, defying the limitations imposed by mental health challenges to put his long-term goals within reach.
Leighton commenced with Mylestones in April 2021, moving from another service provider. While Leighton’s mental health disability might have been seen as an obstacle to employment, thanks to his determination and the support of his Mylestones Job Development Officer (JDO) Annette, he has been able to explore various career opportunities and forge a path towards new horizons.
The team at Mylestones could see that Leighton had felt rushed or pressured in other roles he worked in, and so their priority was to ensure he felt comfortable with any employment opportunities they investigated.
Looking at Leighton’s work history, Annette could see that while it was rooted in entry-level process work, he had a long-term dream of pursuing an apprenticeship but was uncertain about a specific field. To investigate new pathways, Annette organised industry visits to the retail, automotive and heavy machinery sectors, so Leighton could get a glimpse into potential career paths. However, mental health struggles posed barriers that Leighton was not able to overcome at the time, and this was put on pause.
In October 2021, Leighton reached out to Mylestones again, and the new JDO, James, was ready to support him on the journey. James and Leighton had some open discussions about Leighton’s challenges and triggers to his mental health, allowing James to provide a tailored support and reassurance plan. Throughout this time, Leighton sought additional assistance from industry specialists to embrace a holistic approach to his well-being.
As Leighton’s program neared its end, James worked closely with him to ensure a smooth transition and commencement with a new employer that aligned with his goals and aspirations.
A work trial showcased Leighton’s potential, but his anxiety prevented him from completing the shift. This trial allowed James to see the extent of Leighton’s mental health struggles, and from there, he strived to find a more suitable workplace for Leighton.
“After that first work trial, I realised the extent of Leighton’s struggles, and that has led us to Leighton’s current role and making sure we could find an employer that best fits Leighton’s needs and aspirations,” said James.
Amidst their search, paid traineeships emerged as a potential solution, given Leighton’s reservations about full-time work.
“Previous employers would try to rush me to increase my hours or the days that I worked, and I felt I wasn’t ready for that,” Leighton said.
With James’ support, Leighton applied for a Certificate II in Engineering Pathways through Challenge Employment & Training, where, eager to explore this opportunity further a site tour was scheduled. Leighton engaged with the trainer, Shannon, and program support coach.
Opening up about his anxiety limitations, Leighton was shown a supportive environment, small group dynamics and camaraderie among the staff and students. Leighton signed up eagerly and with Shannon’s ongoing support, his perseverance and commitment shone through. He has continued to display academic excellence and secured a work experience opportunity with an engineering company that trained him in CAD (computer-aided design) a position aligning perfectly with his abilities and aspirations.
Despite his initial joy, Leighton has struggled to continue due to physical and emotional barriers. Determined to overcome these obstacles, he sought guidance from his support system to get back on track. James reached out to the manager at the Engineering company and had an open conversation, which led to plans being set for a future return on a part-time basis once his health improved.
During this time, JDO Sophie from the Mylestones team arranged a factory tour of potential employer StyroMAX. The employer is experienced in supporting employees with mental health challenges to build their capacity and was eager for Sophie and Mylestones to invite a group of job seekers to a factory tour for a cleaning/trade assistant role. After discussing what a great opportunity this could be for Leighton, a site tour was scheduled.
James said the relief on Leighton’s face after the tour was palpable. “I could see the look on Leighton’s face that he knew he had found someone he could work with, who understood him”.
Sam, the employer, was also impressed, as Leighton’s passion for the manufacturing industry became apparent as he asked questions and talked about his transferable skills and interests.
This fundamental moment motivated Leighton to apply for this new opportunity, but not as a cleaner. Sam could see that Leighton had the potential to be a trade assistant and wanted to offer him the chance to learn how to use more complex machinery, but at a pace that works for him with on-the-job support from Sophie.
Sam’s experience in understanding and embracing mental health and disability inclusivity has provided Leighton with a workplace that has allowed him to strive and grow in a supportive environment.
“Sam has been great. I haven’t felt rushed to increase my hours or workdays, and she is very supportive. Sam always goes out of her way to make time to talk about anything that I am struggling with. I am feeling more confident, not just in my ability at work but in myself as well.” Leighton says.
James agrees, saying, “Leighton hasn’t taken any time off since he started in February, except for one day, which considering his anxiety and what he overcomes on a daily basis, is a testament to the strategy Sam and Sophie has implemented with Leighton.”
This type of environment, in a role tailored to his skills and working alongside supportive team members, means that Leighton has thrived. Sam and Leighton’s open communication has ensured Leighton has ongoing support, which allows Leighton to manage his anxiety, and discover a newfound energy and ability to savour his weekends – rather than recover from the emotional strain that working has caused him in the past.