Photo of holly
20 Jun 2023

Holly's Able Futures story

Twelve months ago Holly’s mental health was deteriorating. Her work-life balance was very much unbalanced and taking its toll on her anxiety, depression and confidence. Thanks to help from Able Futures who deliver the Access To Work Mental Health Support Service, alongside her own hard work and determination, Holly’s life inside and outside of work has transformed.

Holly, from Chelmsford, had worked as a manager in the hospitality industry for 17 years. When her father died when she was 21 years old, work became her “life and family”, but that balance proved unsustainable – particularly after the pandemic.

Seeking help last year, Holly discovered that Able Futures could provide nine months free mental health support. Funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, Able Futures delivers the Access To Work Mental Health Support Service and gives regular appointments with a mental health specialist called a Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant (VRC).

“I didn’t realise the trauma the job was creating,” recalls Holly. “People’s mentality changed after covid and, as the bar manager, I was having to deal with those issues as well as my team’s anxieties. My own anxiety rose so much and my work-life balance was terrible. I felt totally drained.”

After contacting Able Futures, Holly was soon introduced to VRC Lisa, who instantly put her at ease. “Lisa was wonderful,” says Holly. “It was so nice to speak to someone outside of work and to not be judged.

“Lisa encouraged me to talk about work and the impact it was having on my personal life. She brought to the forefront how important self-care is and gave me the tools to do it.”

Tailoring her advice to meet Holly’s needs, Lisa encouraged Holly with activities such as keeping a diary, opening up to friends and family, and using a wish jar to make the most of days off – something that has seen Holly and her partner try rock climbing, among other experiences.

Lisa says, “Able Futures is a very practical programme. People are given the power to make a difference to their lives through the techniques they learn, and I’m here as a guide. With Holly, that difference was life-changing. It’s heart-warming to know that she’s reached the end of the programme and is where she wants to be.”

During her nine-months with Able Futures, Holly decided to leave the hospitality industry and step down from management roles. She’s now working full time in a health shop and enjoying a much-improved work-life balance.

Holly, who has since publicly thanked Lisa in a Facebook post, says, “I cried my eyes out at the end of my last session! But they were all good tears when I realised how far I’d come. Taking part in the programme gave me the confidence to look into myself deeper and accept my feelings. It also gave me the confidence to step back in my career. I’ve been given tools I will probably carry on using for the rest of my life. I’ve learned it’s ok to not be ok, and I’ve come through the other side.”

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