If you’re a young person stepping into the world of work, you already know how stressful and confusing this time can be. The sudden shift from education to the nine-to-five can take a serious toll on your wellbeing. Without looking after yourself, new mental health conditions may arise, past ones may be triggered, and existing ones may deepen.
Research shows that young people are struggling in the workplace, with 60% experiencing burnout [CMHA UK (2021) Time to Act: Mental Health in Early Careers]. That’s why we sat down with Australians who were just starting out in their careers. We talked about the things that are working for them, the problems that still need fixing, and how a young person can better navigate employment.
Like everything in life, a new job is tougher if you go it alone. The young people we talked to all agreed that having a support network makes all the difference. If you’ve just started in a role, try reaching out to some of the other junior employees. Chances are they’ve been through many of the same challenges you’re facing now.
One of the most common issues faced by new employees is imposter syndrome – that nagging feeling that you’re not good enough for the role you’re in. That feeling is completely natural. Just remember that you’re putting yourself out there and diving into something completely new. You deserve a little time to adjust.
Another problem is around workplace culture and the availability of mental health resources. Unfortunately, young people often aren’t aware of how to seek help when they’re struggling. When you’re looking at a role, it’s a good idea to research what kind of support is on offer. And when the time comes for an interview, don’t be afraid to ask about the office culture and what type of wellbeing resources are available.
If you’re still studying, then graduate and intern programs are a fantastic introduction to your industry. They offer a chance to network, find job opportunities, and adjust to the day-to-day work environment. It’s also an opportunity to share your experiences with people your age or get advice from a mentor that you respect. If you’re not sure how to find these programs, ask your school or university.
Going forward, we want every Australian workplace to be mentally healthy. The only way this can happen is by challenging the stigma and listening to your perspectives, concerns, and experiences. We believe that employees at every level should feel valued and supported. And we want conversations about mental health to become a normal part of the working day.
If you’re looking to start your first job, or you’re already in the first years of your career, we have plenty of resources that can help. Our Thriving from the Start network is run by a committee of young volunteers. They’ve been in the same boat as you and are committed to a healthier workplace culture.
Find useful tools and practical solutions here.