New Job - Feeling Incompetent!


Well-known member
Hi everyone

So I have a new job which I started back in March (last month). It's working in mental health but the Forensics side. This is a new side of mental health which I have little knowledge of the criminal justice side.

The first month of the job was induction. I am really happy with the pace of the role. I have been lucky to have been given the chance to train, shadow and get to know the role.

The major part of the role is based in the community supporting clients with MH issues. The service is voluntartly. So the client's have the right to decline support from our service.

I was given my first client last week. The client declined support. So I closed the case. I took this very bad as I felt quite hard on myself. Thinking did I explain the service right? A few colleagues have encouraged me to not to be hard on myself. It happens and a lot of the client's do decline support from our service.

However, I have been given a new client. Again this client answers the phone and asked me to phone back later on today. Which I did. I left a message on the client's voicemail with my name and contact details. As of yet, the client hasn't returned my call.

My TL encouraged me to text the client tomorrow as it's still a good sign the client is engaging by answering the phone. But this client has a history of non engaging with mental health services.

I am feeling incredibly anxious with taking on new clients as majority of their case is to do with the criminal justice. I have little knowledge. I feel quite anxious on keep phoning my Manager to explain certain things. I'm starting to feel they are getting annoyed with me by keeping asking basic things. I don't want to be seen as someone who is anxious and is not performing well. Someone who can't use their own initiuative. Gets scared and is constantly on the phone seeking for help.

I'm reading their reports and hearing a lot of different words and about the criminal justice which I am struggling to understand.

To top all that off, I am also feeling anxious in case another client doesn't engage. It may look bad on me as two client's are not engaging. I don't want this to affect my performance and they end up sacking me as so far, none of my clients are engaging.

I am feeling really negative, anxious and helpless.

Any advice?


Well-known member
This is a new job for you, and I must say kudos to you for working in a difficult field! I don't know how people can handle working in mental health services like that on a day to day basis. I certainly couldn't do it myself, so again, kudos that you found yourself in this role and want to make the best of it.

It's understandable how you feel. Starting a new position with any job, we expect ourselves to be perfect from the start. To not make any mistakes or have any faults which may count against us. It's a silly position to put ourselves in, but inevitable at that. We tend to give ourselves high expectations in new settings, almost like setting our own selves up for failure.

I think you should listen to your colleagues and engage with them as often as possible about this. Health fields are extremely difficult to work in. Clients will often decline help, as it has to be THEIR idea, not yours. I've heard numerous similar stories and experiences through the nutrition field, clients declining help in in-patient hospital settings as they do not want to change. It's common.

It sounds like you're doing your best given the situation. Don't give up! You're doing good, even when it doesn't feel like it. If you think you're not explaining things correctly, maybe try role playing with a colleague. Explain how you explain to clients and maybe they can give you some pointers on where you're going wrong, if you are going about it the wrong way. If there's anything I've learned studying in a health field, is that colleagues are almost always willing to help. Like I said, it's a difficult field to work in, and your colleagues and their experiences are your best assets. Good luck!