Our book was officially launched in virtual form in Australia last month! Our part in the festivities (we’re imagining there were fireworks in all the big cities; too bad no one took pictures) included a webinar hosted by the Career Education Association of Victoria (CEAV – https://www.ceav.vic.edu.au/), also known as the Australian Centre for Career Education. We outlined some of the key messages in the book, including 1) the effects of career development that positively influence mental health and 2) a model of stress and coping that explains some of the mechanisms underlying the career development role in mental health support. We were pleased to have the opportunity to work with Australian career development practitioners and to be guided by their feedback and comments as we assembled the book. Many thanks to Bernadette Gigliotti and the CEAV whose initial enthusiasm and support for the book were instrumental to the success of the project. Also, thanks to Joanne Webber for her careful review of the manuscript. Among other contributions, Joanne made sure our language and approach would work with Australian readers.
In addition to the Australian launch, all of our work since the middle of March has been delivered online. Like many of you, our scheduled in-person workshops, presentations, meetings, and conferences have been either cancelled or postponed while we all wait for a future date when it will again be safe to gather. The global pandemic has us all adapting and learning to cope with demands we hadn’t anticipated and weren’t necessarily prepared for. As career development practitioners, we tend to see ourselves as uniquely adaptable to many things, especially to career-related demands, but this particular transition has challenged us all. We’re grappling with new technology and translating our in-person strategies so they work remotely while worrying about the future and our capacity to manage. We are experiencing the concerns that regularly plague many vulnerable clients, COVID or no COVID, and so are many of our friends and colleagues. In the face of these challenges, our skills as career development practitioners may be more necessary and helpful than ever.
We know that career development help will be needed in the face of unprecedented job loss. What we have learned while navigating the realities of COVID is that our work on attending to mental health in career development is both effective and vital. We are seeing how stress can be managed not only by typical stress management efforts such as exercise and healthy eating, but by effective career development strategies. For example, we and our colleagues are reducing demands through perspective-taking (“we are all in this together”) and priority setting (the previously onerous demand of looking good seems far less important in a COVID world). We, our colleagues, and our clients are also increasing coping skills to meet reality’s requirements. We figured out Zoom, WebEx, and other videoconferencing systems; we run and participate in meetings in new ways; and we have learned new ways of showing we care without the use of hugs or face-to-face conversations. We certainly haven’t eliminated COVID-related stress because of these efforts, but we’ve found out that we have some tangible and palpable control over our responses to COVID.
A closing note: We’re moving to a new system and this is the first of our automated blog posts, meaning new followers can sign-up through our website and the posts will go out automatically to the list. No more cutting and pasting e-mails for us. Along with the automation is a plan going forward to post on a more regular basis. We have a few topics in the hopper and there are many exciting things to report on in the coming weeks and months. And, as we’ve mentioned before, we’re always interested in blog content focused on career development and mental health and would be happy to include your piece in a future guest blog.