15 October 2018
My name is Ariane and I work as an Employment Advisor on the Talent Match London programme at Mind in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest. I support people with mental health conditions secure sustainable employment. I support in a number of ways, from helping them with their CV, interview skills and job applications, to working with them to help improve their wellbeing.
Mental health in the black community
Growing up, I lived with family members who were diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression which came with various challenges. When you’re a young black family, growing up in Hackney, well before it became the trendy place it is now, well before a number of high profile celebrities talked about their mental health, and where mental health conditions were not fully understood, it felt embarrassing and dare I say shameful “to have that kind of thing in your household.”
However, it’s amazing how life works. I’m now working for one of the most well-known mental health charities in the UK. So how did I end up here?
Well, three years ago I was made redundant from my role as an Employment Advisor, so with only one week left before becoming officially unemployed, I applied for a 5-month contract position. I usually tend to stay clear of contract positions as I like the stability of a permanent contract – even if that stability is only perceived. However, after preparing for the interview to within an inch of my life and realising that I would need to talk about the challenges we’d faced as a family, I secured the job.
With just a couple of hours to go before becoming unemployed, I officially became an employee of Mind in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest.
As part of my role I have been to many events that aim to support BAME clients.
I think back to attending a conference in Shoreditch last autumn which talked about how to improve outcomes for young black men. I remember looking at some of the black guest speakers who were business owners, entrepreneurs, politicians and management, and feeling incredibly proud that they’d been able to overcome their challenges and make it in their chosen field.
It was amazing to see that despite their busy schedules, they had chosen to get involved in local community projects to support other black people to manage or overcome some their challenges. It was a passionate discussion that highlighted the wealth of experience in the room and the progress that had been made locally.
I’ve learnt that if you can find the strength and determination, you can turn a challenging situation or experience into a positive one. You won’t see it while you’re going through it, but almost miraculously, life throws you life line and before you know it, you are back on track.
How amazing it is that we now live in a society where we can challenge the negative labels attributed to black people and mental health? We can now talk openly about what we’re really feeling and what we’re really going through.
This blog was written by Ariane Samuel, Employment Advisor at Mind in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest as part of Black History Month 2018. To find out more about their work, please visit their website and on Twitter @mindchwf.
Join Talent Match London participant Blessing Odukoya, in ‘her journey to becoming whole as a black disabled woman’ here.