Shining a light on an invisible disability
Sometimes the hardest disabilities to live with are the ones you can’t see. Stuart, a Recruiter, tells his story of overcoming a sometimes stigmatised condition.
Stuart Young joined Shell having been top of his graduating class at the University of Alberta in Canada.
With a degree in Commerce and Business Law, he’d originally planned to become a lawyer, but, after meeting a Shell recruiter at a university open day, he was inspired to join.
Coming from a diverse background (his mother is First Nation – an aboriginal Canadian – and his father is Scottish), seeing diversity on display at Shell was an attraction.
When he later joined the Shell Graduate Programme in HR he felt he had it all set. “It was an immediate fit,” he says. “I have always wanted to work closely with people and in a space in which I can influence a company’s diversity.”
Growing up with ADHD
But there was something about Stuart that he had not yet shared with his colleagues. He arranged a meeting with his HR advisor and shared his condition: Stuart has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and has been struggling with it since childhood.
Stuart was diagnosed with ADHD as an adolescent, a mental disorder that can cause a short attention span, a lack of organisational skills and can lead to low self esteem, high anxiety and depression.
Stuart first decided that when he entered the professional world at Shell he would keep his ADHD to himself. “Invisible disabilities are sometimes harder for people to understand,” he says.
Support of colleagues
Together with his HR advisor and manager, Stuart devised a plan for dealing with his condition. They decided he would take part in an external 12-week course to help him deal with ADHD and tackle his workload in a more focused, effective way. To support this, Stuart, with the approval of his manager, arranged time every Friday afternoon for a mental health professional to visit him in the office.
"The impact was immediate. More than giving him the right tools to tackle the problems he was facing, it was the release of pressure he felt in being open that helped him develop at work. He explains: “By opening up to my manager and colleagues and asking for help, I felt I could move forward.”
Now, in his role as a Graduate Recruiter, Stuart is in a unique position to help students and graduates with similar disabilities find their way at Shell, and to continue promoting an inclusive environment where everyone can achieve great success. One of the key pieces of advice he gives is that you need to speak out to receive help: the support is out there and if you have an invisible disability, you shouldn’t be afraid to expose it.
For Stuart, speaking out and the support he received from his manager and colleagues was the key to overcoming his disability: “People need the resources, but more than that they need to feel they’re not alone.”
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