After years struggling with his mental health, Mehmet found confidence

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Mehmet dreamt of fulfilling his dream to become a Chartered Accountant, but was beset by mental health challenges and spent considerable time under close psychiatric care.  Despite significant periods of time away from work, which knocked his confidence, the unconditional support of his Twining Enterprise employment specialist meant that Mehmet applied for and secured his ideal accounting job! Here Mehmet tells us his story in his own words…

My name is Mehmet and I’m currently 25 years old and I’ve been a patient of my local mental health team since February 2020. Prior to my mental health complications at age 20/21 I had studied and completed an accounting qualification called AAT and had gained 2 years accounting experience in Law firms. I had made my mind up to carry on further studies called chartered accountancy (ACA or ACCA) and had a summer job in the meantime in retail awaiting my results for my AAT. At this point I started to develop/manifest my mental complications (mainly started with anxiety & depression) and it went undiagnosed as I kept it to myself and close friends only.

After a few months went by and my symptoms got worse, I left work because it felt too much to handle at that point; the depression was so crippling that I chose to spend all my time at home and in my room, with little to no social life outside my room. At this point I attempted suicide for the first time, and my family understood the extent of my mental health complications and got me the medical help that I needed.

I was prescribed with light antidepressants at this point and again spent the next 6 months in my room and usually fell asleep at 6am when the sun was up with no routine or work for that period. After the 6 months of that, I slowly started to feel better again and decided to re-join my old retail job. At this point I stopped my antidepressants without the guidance of a professional (my GP at the time) and after 3 months of working again I started to feel worse than ever and again had to leave my job; at this point I developed new symptoms related to my pre-existing mental health conditions, and I started to now hear voices and paranoia.

Being at home again with no routine in my life and more depressed than ever (at this point I stopped all social interactions), I attempted suicide again and was rushed to A&E.  The mental health team took this more seriously than ever and suggested I admit myself into a psychiatric ward or they were going to sanction me into one without a choice.

I spent my 22nd birthday at the psychiatric ward, I was there for about 3 weeks, and had my first formal/professional diagnosis (depression, which was changed again at a later stage).  I was then released with a prescription of antidepressants at the highest legal dosage and became a patient of my local mental health team in February of 2020.

A month after leaving the psychiatric ward my family and friends noticed my symptoms got worse and reached out to the mental health team to get me the help I needed (at this point it was the beginning of Covid-19) and the crisis team came to visit me at home and again decided I needed to be re-admitted into a psychiatric ward.  After 2 weeks staying at the new psychiatric ward, I was diagnosed with depression with psychotic symptoms due to my voice hearing.  I was released with now 5 different medications at the highest legal dose, 2 antidepressants, 2 antipsychotics and 1 medication for muscle stiffness due to taking 2 antipsychotics at the highest legal dose.

Before my dismissal from the psychiatric ward, I spoke to the doctor and asked him how soon he reckoned I could start work again; he told me I would not be able to start work for the next couple of years at least, from his professional experience of patients similar to me (which was very accurate with my personal experience).  I had those 5 medications for the next year, during which time I gained over 55kg (8 stone) and now started to face physical health complications alongside my mental health.

After a year of taking 5 medications and gaining large amounts of weight, I got admitted into a psychiatric ward again and was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder (my most current diagnosis) and tried many new medications within that period.  I was curious about possibly getting back to work again, and my local mental health team referred me to Twining Enterprise. I was contacted, I believe on the day of the referral, by an employment specialist (my most current one since I was referred about 1.5 years ago) who asked me how I would like to approach and take steps into getting back into work.  I told her that I’m a qualified accountant and it was my dream to get back into it and possibly start my chartered accountancy, but I’ve been home for more than a year with no work experience and my C.V was outdated.

My employment specialist had a look at my C.V and helped me with how I can make adjustments to it, to stand out, and provided very detailed suggestions to amend or change it that made a very big positive change. And at this point I was unsure if I would definitely get back into work as I wasn’t feeling ready yet, and explained that to the employment specialist at Twining, and she explained to me that there is no rush and she can work at my pace. After being in contact with the employment specialist I decided I no longer felt ready to get back into work again and I was told that’s completely fine and if and when I do feel ready again that Twining will be there to help me again, which felt very important to me knowing they do truly care for their clients.

Earlier this year (2022) I reached out to Twining again to seek help with getting back to work again and was again in contact and help with the same employment specialist. At this point I was off from work for over 3 years, and truly believed it may not be a possibility to get into accounting work ever again. We started work searching and techniques into helping me secure jobs, again we started at a slower rate to the norm because of my mental health complications, she helped me at my pace which again felt very good.  Sometimes I would not apply for any positions for weeks and weeks and was never judged or had any kind of criticism from my employment specialist as she knows really well that with mental health complications you have good and bad weeks... after months of working together I felt more confident than I had been in years to start work again!

I had told my employment specialist that I would ideally want to get back into accounting with accounting studies alongside my work. Unlike previous agencies which helped me secure jobs before the age of 21 I had told them the same thing, but the previous agencies (not Twining) didn’t really care and got me into contract role’s and other sort of roles that I wasn’t necessarily interested in.  This is because they weren’t a charity and rather a business of getting people into work as fast as possible to earn as much money as possible, whereas Twining was tailored to my needs and preferences.

My employment specialist started to send roles to me for accounting jobs with study support that I always wanted to do because it was my dream.  I started applying to places from the links she sent me and applied to almost all of the jobs of that were my preference and had a call back from a job I applied for (and prior to this I was helped by my employment specialist with being able to take a call and how to prepare for this), and this was the first stage of my interview.  It was an informal interview and lasted about 10 minutes in total and I was told that I would be expecting a video interview from one of the partners of the firm for my second stage interview.

I managed to secure this second stage interview after years and I was over the moon and emailed my employment specialist straight away with the good news. I reached out to her almost immediately and had an appointment with her booked in for 2 weeks away. She responded to my email the very same day to congratulate me and told me she can make an earlier appointment in the next day or two to accommodate for the interview coming up. She called me the next day and asked me if I was prepared and asked if I needed to go over anything for the video call coming up. We spent probably over an hour on the phone with video call interview techniques and I felt very prepared for the interview (bearing in mind I’ve not had any interview or any sort of interview experience in the past few years).  With the help of Twining Enterprise I felt ready for the interview.

I was given a date over email for the interview and got in contact with my employment specialist at least one more time to prepare for the interview, such as a mock interview. I had the interview with the partner of the firm for 45 minutes and was told at the end of the interview that within a week regardless of securing a 3rd stage interview or not I will be told/notified about the outcome of the interview that just took place. I told my employment specialist immediately once again.  After about a week or so I was emailed by the partner of the firm that I have been shortlisted to take a 3rd and final stage interview at the firm with himself and a fellow partner and it would be a 1-hour interview and 1-hour written exam/test.

At this point I was happy but also very anxious because of the 2-hour interview in person and the test… Again, I reached out to my employment specialist about the good news and how worried I was because of being so close to securing the job yet so afraid of even doing the interview itself.  She, as always, made room for my interview practice/help and helped me to the point that I was no longer anxious about doing the interview because she was so experienced and knowledgeable about stuff like this and eased my worries and built my confidence for the coming interview.

I went to the interview with all the knowledge and help provided to me by my employment specialist from Twining and felt like I did much better than I thought, with the hour interview with two partners of the firm followed up with an hour of test, and was told by the partner at the end of the interview I would again hear back from them regarding securing the job or not. I told my employment specialist about this and she was also really excited about the news I had told her. I waited 3-4 days for the reply which felt like an eternity, and finally the call back came… and I was offered my dream job finally! I joined the chartered accounting practice at the beginning of August 2022, whilst writing this.

Now that I have started to work again in the field and job I wanted for years Twining didn’t stop contacting me like I thought would happen, no rather the opposite, I get regular calls and appointments from my employment specialist to see how I’m fitting into work, and she understands and helps me with the complications I may face because of how long I haven’t been in this sort of environment (close to 5 years) and helps me and guides me with the problems I will face.  This could be anything, from my mental health complications, to how I’m fitting in, to how I’m getting along with people at my new firm; basically any sort of help or questions I may have she can help me with, in fact I spoke to her this very morning regarding something I faced at work earlier this week and she gave me the best advise as she always does/did.

In summary my experience with Twining Enterprise… I don’t think words can fathom how highly I think of this charity with all the help and support I got along the way.  To break it down from my experience with Twining Enterprise, it’s the best organization/charity that I have had the privilege to have been a part of, with the mental health complications I had and still do have, it goes without saying I don’t believe I could ever have been in the position I am in now with the work and studies and everything else, without having someone to talk to when I feel down or someone to express my good news to. I have not had a single bad experience even in the slightest in the 1.5 years I have been in contact with this charity.  This is my own experience, and I cannot vouch for anyone else, but I have been in contact with a few people from Twining and again all very lovely and welcoming people. As you may know from your own experience to the person reading this, having mental health complications have their toll on you in every aspect of life especially with maintaining a job, so if you have any doubt about trying to reach out or just wonder what services Twining provides, don’t even think twice, reach out to them and you can see for yourself!

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