Building a career in social health and wellbeing

Sandeep Mani is working towards gaining the Open Polytechnic’s Bachelor of Social Health and Wellbeing (Mental Health and Addictions) so he can grow his career in the mental health sector.

Starting his career working for Pathways as a mental health support worker, Sandeep realised he had found his passion in supporting others and wanted a relevant degree to help him get to the next level. “I wanted to have a qualification that is recognised in New Zealand, is practical and relevant to our society,” he says.

Upskilling while working

Gaining his degree by distance learning with Open Polytechnic means Sandeep can apply what he’s learning straight away at work.

“I was immediately attracted to the Open Polytechnic’s Bachelor of Social Health and Wellbeing because it meant that I could enhance my career,” says Sandeep.  His eventual goal is to go from support worker role to working with people who have mental health issues and addictions from a clinical perspective. He says, “I would like to support people to live an enriching, enhanced functioning, fulfilling and a productive life whilst managing their mental health and substance use issues."

Now halfway through his degree, Sandeep has seen many areas of the industry having worked as a health care assistant, disability support worker and mental health support worker.

Bachelor of Social Health and Wellbeing

The Bachelor of Social Health and Wellbeing is designed to meet the needs of the mental health, addictions and disability sectors whilst keeping up to date with the sector’s changes.

Having worked in various parts of the different sectors, Sandeep knows the skills needed to succeed. He says, “The degree teaches you to work alongside of tāngata whaiora and tāngata whaikaha, addressing their needs, advocating for them and also gaining an insight in regard to work with a diverse group of people. There is a big emphasis on cultural safety, cultural awareness and cultural competence, which is very relevant in the health and wellbeing sector.”

 “I enjoy what I learn and strongly believe I am going to make a positive difference to peoples’ lives during and after the completion of my degree. By taking in what I’ve learnt, my perspective has changed and therefore I’ve changed how I communicate and approach people with diverse needs.”

Sandeep especially enjoys the practical side of the degree. He says, “I am currently doing my practicum at a facility that provides help to people wanting to manage their addiction issues or seeking sobriety. Part of my learning includes doing reflective journals. Through reflective practice I am aware of areas I need to grow in or improve on and can put strategies in place to achieve such goals.”

“I am excited about where this degree will take me as there are so many opportunities. For example, I can work as a counsellor, a case worker for people seeking help with their addictions, a mental health practitioner or a clinician, amongst other rewarding roles.”

During their studies Bachelor of Social Health and Wellbeing students attend workshops where they meet with academic staff and other students. Sandeep says, “This is a great opportunity to meet other like-minded students who may also be working while studying.”

Growing professionally and personally

Sandeep says that learning about social health and wellbeing benefits you both professionally and personally.

“I have grown so much as a person. I have more understanding of who I am and the people that are close to me.”

“My communication has improved at both the professional and personal level. I am more passionate about the work I am doing and my future career.”

Flexibility and freedom

Wanting to work and study at the same time, Sandeep chose Open Polytechnic because he could study online.

He says, “Studying through distance learning gave me an opportunity to be flexible around my studies and to not give up working. If I plan my time well enough, I can fit in my studies, work, relationships, social life, and travelling.”

Staying motivated

Now over halfway through his degree, Sandeep keeps motivated by practicing good time management. He says, “I try to plan ahead when I need to complete a reading or assignment. I make notes and stick them in front of my desk to help me remember and to keep on track.”

Thinking ahead

Looking forward to completing his degree, Sandeep says, “Having a degree itself will be a proud thing for me as I will be the first generation in my whānau to do so.”

Focused on the future, he is keen to gain some more work experience in the sector before thinking about further study. His ultimate goal is to work as a mental health and addictions practitioner or a clinician.

Degree links to rewarding career

Passionate about his work, Sandeep recommends studying the Bachelor of Social Health and Wellbeing if you are looking to work in the sector. He says, “If you are compassionate and love supporting people to reach their health and wellbeing goals, and having a fulfilling life, then this degree is for you.”

“In your career you may need to advocate for people, you will learn about our history and people that encouraged changes which is inspiring. You will gain the knowledge, skills and tools that can be used in your life and career.”

“Working in social health and wellbeing is so rewarding because you really are positively impacting someone’s life,” he says.

Working in social health and wellbeing is so rewarding because you really are positively impacting someone’s life.