Created on 1 March 2021

Our Participant Debbie

Before joining HeadsUp Debbie hadn’t worked for 23 years as she had been a stay at home parent. She suffered with Anxiety and OCD and was receiving Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) through IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) who had made a referral to Mid and North Essex Mind -Support, Time and Recovery Services (STaR). On receiving this referral, the STaR Worker felt HeadsUp would be a better suit for Debbie’s needs and pointed her in our direction. At this point Debbie felt ‘useless’ and that she would ‘never be able to get another job’, she struggled knowing where to start and was feeling quite low. After she had heard about HeadsUp, Debbie remembers reading a poster online explaining what HeadsUp does and thought ‘this could really help me’. She felt anxious about joining – but noted she felt anxious about everything so was not surprised by this! She felt ‘Terrified to take the first step’ but had the goal of wanting to get back into employment so knew this was the best place to start.

When she met with Paul her Peer Support Worker she felt reassured as they discussed her goals, after chatting with Paul she realised that she also wanted to complete a computer course and had these two goals to focus on. Debbie hadn’t written a CV in over 30 years and felt anxious at the prospect of completing one, however Paul reassured Debbie and worked with her over a few months to complete it, taking it in small steps. As Debbie hadn’t known where to start when trying to do her CV, having someone to go through it with her step by step really helped. Debbie’s Peer Support Worker suggested that she would benefit from the HeadsUp 3-day workshop, which would help to boost her confidence and wellbeing. She reflected about feeling nervous when she attended the workshops but felt proud once she had completed them having enjoyed spending time with people that were ‘in the same boat’ as her. Debbie felt reassured by this experience feeling that ‘maybe there is something out there for me’ as well as the sessions having an overall positive impact on her Mental Health.

The confidence gained from these workshops allowed Debbie to step out her comfort zone further completing more workshops and going to the Adult Community Learning Centre to complete courses in computing and Mental Health and wellbeing. She could feel her confidence growing and felt reassured as she knew that if she had any questions or concerns her Peer Support Worker was always on hand to help. Her friends and family started to notice the change in Debbie’s confidence too and she felt proud to tell them about all the new things she was doing.

Looking back at her time with HeadsUp, getting a job was Debbie’s biggest goal and ultimately her biggest achievement. HeadsUp continued providing support during lockdown and this led to Debbie getting back into work. In the lead up to Christmas she is working part time at Tesco’s on a temporary contract which is a great first step and suits Debbie perfectly. She now has the confidence to carry on job searching and recently had an interview for an NHS Admin job, although Debbie is hoping she will be kept on at Tesco’s as she’s enjoying all the progress she is making there.

Debbie can feel her anxiety lessening and has completed her CBT with IAPT, saying her mood has improved substantially and her anxiety levels have decreased. Debbie describes HeadsUp as being ‘Fantastic – sums it up’. She went from thinking she ‘could never do a full-time job’ to now, when she will be doing 30 hours leading up to Christmas – this is such a massive accomplishment. Debbie says she would ‘Definitely recommend HeadsUp, I was really anxious about the prospect of getting a job and was absolutely terrified but read the poster and got support. Really good support, they really help you, in a non-judgmental way, didn’t make you feel stupid but gives you hope’

Reflecting on how far she has come, Debbie said ‘Since 2011 I was housebound with OCD and Anxiety, to go from that to driving home from work is amazing’


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