We all deal with mental health struggles sometimes, and careers planning alone can cause feelings of anxiety or stress. Whether you are just starting to think about careers, changing your mind along the way, or ready to take your next steps, we are here to support you. In today’s blog, Career Consultant Sue talks tough conversations – and King’s Careers’ commitment to taking a positive and supportive approach to mental health.
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 and we’re posting this to let you know that it’s OK to talk about your mental health at a Careers Guidance Appointment. That’s true all year round, not just in Mental Health Awareness week.
For example, you might have been feeling worried about your career, getting anxious about if you’ve got enough work experience to put on your CV, doubting yourself and whether you are as good as other students who are applying for jobs and/or feeling despair about careers in a pandemic/post-pandemic economy.
Careers is a pretty scary word
Let’s be honest, the very word career can (and often does) cause …. fear. In a 2020 survey, 28% of students cited anxiety as their number one feeling about starting the careers. So if concerns about your career are having an adverse effect on your mental health, whatever the extent, please know that it’s a good idea to share this at a Careers Guidance Appointment. There’s no need to worry about how your Careers Consultant will react. As a Careers Consultant, I always value the openness and honesty of students who talk about their mental health.
Examples of tough student careers conversations
Let’s work together to dispel the myth that conversations about careers need to be ‘non-emotional’ and that mentioning anything about anxiety, stress or mental health will be perceived as a ‘weakness’. At King’s Careers & Employability, we’re committed to taking a very positive and supportive approach to mental health.
Here are a couple of examples of how you can put anxiety about careers into words, with two practical, common student scenarios. Have you ever felt this way? Did you know that you could talk about it with us?
- You could be feeling anxious about your career plans and worried that you are procrastinating. Chatting this through with a Careers Consultant can help you regain a sense of control and get a step by step approach in place to get going with your career planning in a way that’s good for you. Careers Consultants often start a Careers Guidance appointment by asking something like ‘What would you like us to work on today?’ and you could simply say ‘I’m worried about my career and what I’m going to do. I’d like to get some help with that.’
- You could be noticing that worries about getting work experience are contributing to mental health challenges e.g. general anxiety.There’s a benefit in sharing this with a Careers Consultant so that they can tailor the support they give you to take account of this. So you could say something like ‘I know there are probably lots of resources you can share with me about getting work experience, but I’d find it helpful if we can focus on one or two options that other students have found helpful for now, as it causes me anxiety to work on this’.
Helping you navigate careers with wellbeing in mind
Please don’t think you need to wait until you feel better or have got yourself ‘sorted’ before you can book a Careers Guidance Appointment. You can book an appointment on King’s CareerConnect. If you’d prefer to take a look at some online resources first, then our KEATS resources are a great place to start. Maybe just spend 10 minutes and select one thing that catches your interest to read or do. If you would describe your mental health challenges as a disability or long-term health condition, then you may want to see our special support pages to find relevant careers resources, such as information about being open, how to ask for adjustments and how to frame the conversation.
Careers Consultants are trained careers professionals and we are here to support you to manage the impact of anxiety, stress and mental health on your career-related decisions and development. It may be that you would benefit from King’s Counselling & Mental Health support (available for all students) before engaging with our support (or at the same time) and we encourage you to find out more from the Counselling & Mental Health web pages.
Looking for more ways to focus on your wellbeing? Take Time In is a great programme of events and resources from KCLSU. Running until 21st May, this campaign encourages us all to take care of ourselves, explore ways to boost wellbeing and focus on our resilience. As a partner for the KCLSU Campaign, King’s Careers & Employability have lots of wellbeing-related careers resources and courses listed on the Take Time In Wellbeing Hub.
Written by Sue Moseley
Edited by Laura Patari