I had a wonderful job working for a major credit card company and I can honestly say I loved it. Sadly once I was signed off work with anxiety, stress and depression I was never treated the same way again. I lost my job. Well I was told that if I handed my notice in I would get paid my final wage if I didn't they would dismiss me and I would get no payment. Needless to say I handed my notice in and went straight to a lawyer. The company denied that is how it happened and also claimed it was nothing to do with my mental health condition. So why did it happen then?!
So many employers have no idea how to deal with employees who have mental health conditions. They seem to think that they are no longer capable to carry out their normal duties and don't know how to act around them. I can tell you how to act around them NORMAL. Just because people have a condition does not mean they are any different or need to be treated differently.
I was offered a staged return to work. The first few days I was in for 2 hours then built it up from there. I was not happy though as I was stuck on filing and photocopying. My old position was given to someone who did not have a clue what she was doing and who was left alone as my old work colleague was out on audit, I had to help her on numerous occasions yet I was pulled away and told that I was no longer capable of working in that role. I was heartbroken to be told all I was good for now was filing, photocopying and distributing the mail.
Looking back I wonder had they known more about mental health conditions and how to help someone back into work after time off or even straight after diagnosis then maybe I would still be working there.
I agree staged returns are a good idea to settle the person back in to their old position as I did find that helpful myself but surely there are other ways of helping.
I think ALL employers should offer the following
- Staged returns
- flexible hours of working in the first couple of months
- time off for counselling appointments
- invite the counsellor into the work place to see the employee
- Support from a colleague until they are more settled.
ALL employers should be entitled to
- Better education on mental health conditions
- Help in supporting a colleague returning to work
If seeking a new postilion elsewhere the new employee should not discriminate against the person. Too often people who decide to be honest on their applications are overlooked because they have a mental health condition. Why? They are just as capable as anyone else.
IF you are currently working and find you are being treated differently to your colleagues do not be afraid to speak out. Contact your union rep or contact http://www.acas.org.uk/ or http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
If you are finding it hard to get back into work contact your local citizens advice (link above) or pop into your local job centre and ask if they are running any schemes to help you back to work.