When you have mental health and/or addiction problems, keeping your job – or going back to it after time off on sick leave – can be a struggle.
Your manager may be helpful, but if they are not, what can you do to stay in work? And where can you get support?
The most important thing to do is to talk to someone. Keeping your difficulties to yourself won’t help. If you feel you can’t talk to your manager, speak to your employment specialist, if you have one, or your care co-ordinator, occupational therapist or to Occupational Health.
- When and how the problem started
- How you feel about it
- Any warnings or disciplinary procedures
- When you feel you can go back to work, if you are signed off
- Talk to your HR department, union representative or supervisor
- Observe your performance in the workplace and suggest strategies to support you
- Identify workplace difficulties and strategies to over-come them
- Discuss with you what to do and agree an action plan
Once they have the full picture, they can meet your manager to discuss a return to work plan, or solutions to help you stay in work, such as:
- Coming back to work part-time and building up your hours gradually
- Cutting down your more stressful responsibilities or tasks in the short term
- Having a colleague as your mentor or buddy
- Rest breaks and relaxation strategies
- Extra training or support with tasks you find challenging
They can also ask for any disciplinary procedures to be halted. They may explain the symptoms of your illness or the behaviours it can cause and they can help your manager to understand mental health at work. Did you know that one in six people in work are affected by a mental health condition at any one time?
It is worth remembering that employers do not want to lose staff and that poor mental wellbeing at work costs them money. It is in their interests to support you and ensure they have a healthy and productive workforce.