Aaliyah Seedat has come a long way in a year. From homeless, struggling to finish Year 12 and facing a range of mental health challenges, the 18-year-old Leederville woman is now on her way to a career in aged care – the first graduate of the Youth Focus Vocational Support Program.
In the midst of a personal crisis and wracked with depression, anxiety and panic attacks, Ms Seedat moved out of home at 17 and sought refuge in crisis accommodation before linking in with Youth Focus for counselling and mental health support in August.
Last month she graduated from a 16-week flexible learning program in Individual Support Ageing and has been accepted to a Curtin University preparation course to help her fulfil her ambition of studying nursing.
“I was going through a lot. I had left home and was in crisis accommodation. I was in a pretty dark place,” Ms Seedat said.
“I had bad depression and anxiety; every day was hard. In my crisis accommodation, there would be days where I wouldn’t go to school for a week I was so depressed.
“My anxiety was so bad I couldn’t even do my school work; I couldn’t focus. But I had the support of my counsellor, Mauro, that helped me get out of bed every day and I managed to work hard and graduate from school.”
The new Youth Focus Vocational Support Program helps young people experiencing mental health issues to navigate further education and training prospects.
By working with a counsellor and a vocational specialist, clients are guided to identify employment or training opportunities, create resumes and cover letters, actively seek work and prepare for interviews.
“A lot of my success has been because of Youth Focus and the guidance of the Vocational Support Program,” Ms Seedat said. “It’s been invaluable in helping me achieve my goals.
“My support worker Mercedes was extremely supportive and opened a lot of opportunities for me, including help with financial hardship. I am so grateful for the support of Youth Focus. With this help my dreams have become a reality.”
In addition, the vocational support helped Ms Seedat traverse financial barriers, connecting her with non-government organisations to assist in providing a laptop to help with her studies and linking in with work placement opportunities.
Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Arthur Papakotsias said ancillary services like the new Vocational Support Program provided young people with additional help.
“Many young people working through mental health challenges simply need a guiding hand to help them on the road to success,” he said.
“The Youth Focus Vocational Support Program is one mechanism that can help.”
The Vocational Support Program is sponsored by Future Generation Global (FGG), an investment company which provides shareholders with diversified exposure to global fund managers and helps change the lives of young Australians affected by mental illness.
Last financial year, Youth Focus supported a record number of young people aged between 12 and 25 in WA, providing free counselling and assessment services to more than 5,000 young people and school and community education to another 7,000.
Youth Focus provides counselling and outreach services including suicide prevention education in the schools and the community; and web-counselling to regional and remote parts of the state.
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