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self portrait of Eriza Bruno Mental Health Housing Support Worker

Eriza Bruno Psychology Alumni

Briefly, tell us about your job. What do you find most rewarding? What are your greatest challenges within this profession?

I am currently employed as a mental health housing support worker with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. My role is to assist people who suffer with mental health issues secure, or maintain housing. I assist with their housing search and act as an advocate for them. I also assist with salvaging their tenancy if they are having issues with their landlord or the Residential Tenancy Branch.

What I find most rewarding about my career is the direct contribution I make to people’s well-being. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing I made a direct impact in someone’s life. I believe in the housing first initiative and that having a place to call home plays a major role in someone’s mental health recovery.

One of the biggest challenges I face in my position is fighting the stigma about mental health. Many people do not understand how difficult it is for people struggling with mental illness and some landlords are not impressed when they find out a tenant has a worker assigned to them. On top of the stigma, searching for housing in the city is very difficult with the low vacancy rate and stereotypes about mental health can make it difficult to secure housing. 

What experiences and activities helped you to map out your career pathway?

Since I migrated to Canada I have worked in various support roles and I have always enjoyed being able to interact with people and helping make small differences in their lives. I have experience with community work, group homes and I briefly worked within the school system as well. I always knew that I wanted to be in public service, which is why I never drifted off the field. 

As a student, did you see yourself in your current career? What stayed the same and/or changed? 

Yes. I always enjoyed working with people, which is why I kept my job as a support worker while studying. I was always interested in human behavior, which is why I majored in psychology. I believe that I am exactly where I wanted to be.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in pursuing a degree in psychology?

Don’t be discouraged when people tell you that there are no opportunities for psychology graduates. People often say that psychology is too broad and that you need to pursue a Ph.D. to find a job. I think that the fact that psychology is a broad interest provides flexibility. With a psychology degree you are able to work in schools, family services, corrections, mental health and more. As long as you are genuinely interested in the field and are proactive in looking for opportunities, you are bound to have a fulfilling career with your degree.

What job search advice do you have for students and recent graduates?

Send out those resumés! As long as you are confident in your ability to do the job, then apply even if the description does not ask for a psychology degree. You have nothing to lose by applying.

Tell us a fun fact about your career path.

A few months before I was due to graduate, I had a phase of panic (which I’m sure most candidates for graduation get) so I sent out my resumé to almost every job that interested me, even when the description asked for a completed degree. Luckily, I was called for an interview for a housing worker at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. To my surprise, I was offered the job and I am about to spend my third year in this position. I have loved every single day since I started. As I mentioned, you have nothing to lose by sending out your resumé. Most students wait until they get their diploma to start their job search, but as long as you are genuine and passionate about what you do, the opportunities will be there waiting for you.

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