Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Mary Ita Heffernan from Health Service Executive to give some advice for people considering this job:

Mary Ita Heffernan

Social Worker

Health Service Executive

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Mary Ita Heffernan

Whilst in secondary school, I changed my mind many a time regarding the career path I wanted to pursue! I always knew that I wanted to work with people but was unsure about the profession which would most suit my interests and skills in this regard.

While in school, I definitely found that being unsure about the type or area of work you want to pursue is a very difficult and confusing position to be in, especially given the array of career choices now available and the pressure one feels in trying to make one’s mind up.

To this end, I would strongly advise anybody in this position to research courses and job descriptions well in order to make the most informed decision possible at that time in your life. 

I recommend one tries to gain as much work experience as possible as it will provide you with valuable insight into your skills, ability, likes/dislikes for certain areas of employment!!!!

Also I would research the courses and job areas as much as possible so that you can make an informed decision regarding your choices. If you can't gain enough information in school, contact the college directly or arrange to talk to somebody who facilitates the course. In particular, it would be really valuable to talk to somebody in the profession to gain a realistic and practical insight into the job.

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Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Schizophrenia
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Schizophrenia

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental health condition that causes a range of different psychological symptoms including: 

  • Hallucinations - hearing or seeing things that do not exist
  • Delusions - unusual beliefs not based on reality which often contradict the evidence
  • Muddled thoughts based on the hallucinations or delusions
  • Changes in behaviour

Doctors often describe schizophrenia as a psychotic illness. This means sometimes a person may not be able to distinguish their own thoughts and ideas from reality.

The exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown. However, most experts believe the condition is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It is thought certain things make you more vulnerable to developing schizophrenia, and certain situations can trigger the condition.

Schizophrenia is one of the most common serious mental health conditions. About 1 in 100 people will experience schizophrenia in their lifetime, with many continuing to lead normal lives.

Schizophrenia is most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35. Men and women are equally affected. It is important that schizophrenia is diagnosed as early as possible, as the chances of recovery improve the earlier it is treated. Many people recover from schizophrenia, although they may have periods when symptoms return (relapses). Support and treatment can help reduce the impact of the condition on day-to-day life.

Supports available

At Third Level Education:

Schizophrenia is one of the Mental Health Conditions covered under the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) system.

Full details of the DARE screening criteria are available here.

You don’t have to be eligible for DARE (Disability Access Route to Education) to get support in college. All students with a verified disability, regardless of whether they come through DARE or not, can avail of a variety of academic, personal and social supports while studying at third level. Further information on the support available in college can be found at accesscollege.ie

In the Workplace

Many organisations now make public claims to be an "equal opportunities employer". This suggests the existence of an equal opportunities policy (EOP), which is a policy statement adopted by the organisation declaring an intent not to discriminate and, further, to promote equality by taking steps to aid disadvantaged groups.  Such employers are in effect promising to avoid discrimination on grounds of sex or marital status, and may also make such a commitment in relation to people with a disability and racial and ethnic minorities.

Impact on Career Choice

Skills for workplace success fall into two main categories: hard skills and and soft skills. Hard skills are job-specific and they vary, depending upon the industry or field in which you want to work. For example, a graphic artist must have the computer skills that go with that job.

Soft skills are the personal characteristics that go with a variety of jobs - they include social skills, problem solving, communication, time management, and organisation. For example, a person who prefers to work alone might find a research job particularly appealing. Explore Career Skills in more detail here.

People with Schizophrenia can, and do, work in all walks of life. Many manage to succeed at study and in high-level jobs. In addition to medication and ongoing therapy, developing personal strategies for keeping their schizophrenia at bay is key. 

Vigilance about symptoms is vital - identifying 'triggers' to prevent a more full blown experience works for one person, who is as a coordinator at a nonprofit organisation. For example, if being with people in close quarters for too long can set off symptoms, build in some alone time during the work day, or when you travel with friends etc.

Other techniques cited include controlling sensory inputs. For some, this means keeping their living space simple (bare walls, no TV, only quiet music); for others, it means palying distracting music. “I’ll listen to loud music if I don’t want to hear things,” reports one person who is a certified nurse’s assistant. Exercise, a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol and getting enough sleep - all are important coping strategies (Ref. NY Times Article 25/1/13).

Famous People with Schizophrenia

Nobel Laureate, John Nash of the movie “A Beautiful Mind.

 



Useful Links
Shine - Supporting people affected by Mental ill Health 
Irish national organisation dedicated to upholding the rights and addressing the needs of those affected by mental ill health.
HSE Ireland - Schizophrenia 
HSE Ireland health information portal - detailed information on schizophrenia.
Disability Access Route to Education
Higher Education Access Route
Student Finance