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Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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Occupational Health

Hi everyone,

Before returning to work, my manager asked me to go for an Occupational Health Assessment. I told the doctor everything he needed to know. The doctor wrote a report and sent this to my line manager. I expected them to send it to me prior to sending it to my line manager, but they didn’t. The report included a lot of sensitive information about my medical history, medication and health condition. It also provided management advice for reasonable adjustments, which is helpful. Do you think it’s appropriate for a line manager to have clinical information, or do you think it’s more appropriate for HR? I feel really exposed and vulnerable. My line manager hasn’t spoken to me about the report, and isn’t following the management advice.

I’ve given feedback to HR on their process and suggested it should be improved to protect employees. I don’t feel they understand my concerns.

Thanks,

Jess

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Hi Jessie_D

Sorry you have to go through this extra worry when returning to work. Returning is stressful enough as it is.

I didnt have to see OH before returning and just had a phased return as advised by my GP.

Can I ask what your relationship is like with your manager? Could you maybe ask for a different manager if your current one isnt understanding?

I had problems at work with my supervisor but the manager above him was very understanding. That being the case I always by passed my supervisor whenever I had any sensitive issues arise relating to my health.

Do you have a union rep at work? I found the union invaluble on a couple of occasions.

Also i was eventually diagnosed as bipolar and then registered with HR as disabled. This gives rights and protection under the Disabilty At Work Act.

If you are worried I would maybe ask if you could have a meeting before returning to work with your manager, HR and your union rep if you have one. You would then be able to discuss any concerns you have and any adjustments which would help. I know my work by law have to be seen to make any reasonable adjustments possible.

I hope you can get everything sorted so that you feel confident returning to work

Teresa x

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Thanks Teresa. I returned to work 1st Dec 2018. My manager has been quite aggressive to me lately, I’m feeling very stressed out. Occupational Health have given advice on adjustments, he’s not following the advice. I don’t think he cares about my wellbeing at all.

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Im really sorry to hear that Jessi_D. You have my every sympathy as over the years I put up with a lot from the one supervisor who was at times hostile towards me to the extent of twice trying to get me retired on ill health.

May I ask what type of work you do? Do you have a union?

Is there anyone at work you could talk to in confidence about it?

The problem I found when I returned to work was that my supervisor expected me to be 100% back to how I was before I was ill. In reality we all know it can take a very long time to recover fully but for me going back to work was something I wanted to do for myself.

Apart from the horrible supervisor there were many lovely people at my work who went out of their way to help me ease back into work and supported me over the years. So please believe in yourself and dont let your managers aggressive manner get you down. If possible speak to someone at work about it. No one should have to put up with bullying especially at the vunerable time of having recently returned to work.

Hope you are managing all the madness of juggling childcare and homelife. Being a working mum is a mammoth task but it does get easier as they grow!

Teresa x

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Hi Teresa, I’ve spoken to a few people about it. Some say I shouldn’t be afraid to complain, and others say I should be submissive and try to build a good relationship with my manager. Some say we need more time to talk, others say I shouldn’t talk anymore. I work for an international bank. I am a member of Unite.

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Hi Jessi_D, I'm sorry to hear you are being treated so badly while working for a international bank... I work in banking and I ended up using a HR channel in my work to raise my concerns (it was a different situation). Don't be afraid to speak up about any concerns, and I wouldn't hesitate to raise your concerns about the level of detail shared by OC as well!!! They should know better than that.

Hope your stress levels improve soon. I look forward to hearing from you that they do!!!

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Hi Jessi_D

I think your manager is out or order being aggressive towards you since your return and should be following advice given by OH.

Years ago I was in a similar situation when my line manager was being very unreasonable and knew about my past mental health issues. Unfortunately the union rep didn't support me enough at the time. Following a meeting with HR I was given the option of staying in my post but if after a further assessment I was found to be "incapable" I would be dismissed and my pension frozen. I was very stressed after being in post for eight years.

I was having a lot of sleepless nights and decided that it wasn't worth risking my mental health, so I left. Eventually I found another job which was less stressful and gave me peace of mind to sleep at night.

Perhaps you can speak to OH as your manager should be following guidelines. Its very hard to go to work feeling stressed in that environment so take very good care of yourself.

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Hello Jessi,

with your permission I can ask my partner, what you could do next.

He is the head of a Union for all the workers within a company under a French flag, but with UK contracts (working conditions and rights will change quite drastically, if we are not EU protected under working laws).

Because of the political and social climate a lot of people are struggling with their mental health, and it is so much harder when experiencing illness of any kind or suffering from a chronical mental health condition.

I believe you are absolutely amazing going back into a stressful working environment, but here it is of great importance that you have a protected network and your rights are safe guarded and not misinterpreted or even ignored.

Within your case and in my opinion I am concerned about breach of confidentiality issues...:This occurs when data or information provided in confidence is disclosed to a third party without your consent!

Let me know what you would like to do...either way is fine...

Sending you kind wishes

x

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Hi Jessi,

It is absolutely wrong that your line manager has any access to details of your illness/treatment/medication etc. I have been to occupational health several times and was completely honest with the doctor, but he was lovely and made it clear that he would not disclose anything that I did not want him to. I was always sent his report first, before it was sent to my employer. He said he couldn’t ‘change’ things as the report was his opinion, but he would only submit it when we were both happy with it. I think your employer is allowed to know your diagnosis or the condition you are suffering from, but I’m sure it’s up to you how much more is disclosed. When I was off work I’d been very ill with PPP and but the OH dr just wrote that I’d had a severe mental health problem and required more time off work. I can totally understand that you feel vulnerable and annoyed. It sounds like you have done the right thing to make things better for others. But that doesn’t really help your situation now. I hope things improve for you at work. I think you can ask to be referred back to OH at any time if you feel it would be useful x

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Hi Jessi_D

I really would get in touch with your union. You could make a meeting with them at a time and place to suit yourself so that no one else need know if you were worried about that.

The union can help in many ways starting with giving you good impartial advice and informing you what rights you have at work.

An international bank will have core values and standards and would not wish to be flagged as not supporting mental health so your managers behavoiur will not go down well.

Most importantly the union can offer protection and support. You may have any friend sit in any meetings with a union rep. Also you may choose a different rep if you prefer. I really cant stress enough what a difference having a union rep made to me. I wouldnt still have the job Im in were in not for them.

By all means chat to any of us here about anything. Just talking and a listening ear can help

T x

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Thanks for your advice. I’ll ask for a meeting with a union rep.

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The union rep says he can’t get involved until I raise a formal grievance.

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Hi Jessi_D, I'm sorry to read your updates on this. I think good support at work can be really key and if you don't feel understood or listened to, that's no good at all is it? How do you feel about raising a formal grievance? Does your company have any other routes you can look into? I know where I used to work I had a good Occupational Health referral which really helped me going back to work, although some colleagues didn't understand, or so it felt. I tried my best to do what was needed work-wise and there were times I went home and cried my eyes out, feeling that I wasn't understood or supported. I feel lucky that things didn't get to the point you are describing so I'm afraid I don't have any experience I can share on that. Some workplaces have a "first route resolution" or similar before the formal grievance, that might be something to look into? Do they also have a Wellbeing Helpline or similar, as I know my former employer did (although I didn't use it, I heard positive things about it, being similar to counselling, from someone who suffered a bereavement - a different situation I realise).

I hope you find the best way forward for you and your family and feel more supported at work soon. Take care, xx

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The Employee Assistance Programme offer telephone counselling, but they’ve told me to do CBT. I’m waiting to hear from a therapist about meeting next week.

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I’ve raised a case with HR about the email he sent me today. I can make an informal complaint to his manager, before raising a grievance.

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Occupational Health can’t help me any further. They’ve assessed me and made recommendations to my employer. It’s down to my employer to follow their advice. So they say I should speak to HR for support.

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Thanks for the update and reply Jessi_D. Good to hear you’ve raised the issue and I hope you hear about the appointment with a therapist soon too. I hope things get easier and you can access support to deal with the situation. Good luck with it... and I hope it’s not having too much of a negative effect, I know any kind of work stress can make anyone feel really rubbish... keep talking to us here if it helps too. Take care, xx

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Hello Jessi_D

I'm sorry to hear you are having difficulty accessing support. Hopefully HR will be more willing to listen. I can't understand why you have been asked to do CBT ..... I think your manager is being very unfair. Is it possible that you can move to a different department to give you space?

Please be sure to monitor your stress levels as working in such an environment is very challenging and draining. Take care Jessi. xx

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Hi Jessi_D

Well I'm dumbfounded to hear your union reps response. I'm sorry you are having so much stress and not being offered the support you need.

It is so difficult to speak out when being treated unfairly. Sorting the matter out informally through your managers boss would be way less stressful than a formal grievance. I cant see why the union rep cannot support you through this route of sorting the matter informally. I was very reluctant to push any grievance at work although I had a very strong case. My issue was taken up by the regional rep who came down very heavy upon my manager at the time. Every single meeting I had the union rep helping to speak for me where I found the meetings so overwhelmingly stressful and upsetting. All that was done by the union without a formal grievance being instigated. I wonder if it is more a case of your union rep being reluctant? You may go to a different union rep or even e mail/ring your regional rep to see what support you should be receiving from them as it seems ludicrous that the rep is unwilling to help sort the matter on an informal basis.

As lilybeth mentioned exploring the possibility of moving to another department and all options like that could maybe be considered but a union rep should be available to help explore all these solutions thats what the subscription is for.

I do hope you can find someone to help support you as work stress has the potential to make you feel unwell again. Be sure to look after yourself in every other way making time for yourself at home etc. Even little things like taking lunch away from your desk at work or going for a short walk

Best wishes

Teresa x

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Dearest Jessi_D,

I used to teach in higher education and was a whistle blower for "bullying". In some circumstances working cultures become very institutionalised and do not distinguish between reasonable and unreasonable behaviour. Morals are put aside and company's greed, role positioning and reputation are prioritised, despite the wrong doing!

I fought hard and knew that it would have extreme consequences for myself. The manipulation and "truth stretching" amongst management was quite an experience in itself. At the end it absorbed my life...

At the time management and cover up was unbelievable...The treatment I received including bullying and being excluded, because of protecting my well being and others was quite an experience.

I became pregnant and left the environment...a lot of people from management had to leave, too...because the truth will always prevail!!!

I do not talk often about this painful experience, because the stress has been immense and unfortunately the Union was extremely weak within that particular institution, meaning people were afraid to speak up...

Only you can make the decission and you need to outweigh your priorities. After PPP and my ongoing mental health challenges I schedule my own commitments, but know I could not cope with a working environment you've described...

It is important to journalise, because the diary is part of evidence in case you want to pursue it further. You can also gain external help via your Union, if you believe help and support is not sufficient enough.

Please, look after your health...

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Hi Jessi_D

I hope if you dont work weekends that you can enjoy sometime with your family and time to yourself. I hope this helps recharge your batteries for a work week ahead

Teresa x

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Hello Jessi_D

I hope you are not finding work too stressful. It must be very difficult to keep your stress levels evenly balanced in the workplace. Thinking of you ..... take care. x

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Wishing you well Jessi_D…I am thinking of you.

Sending positive vibes :-)

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HR have told me to speak to my boss’ boss about my boss’ behaviour. I talked to him today, and hope he can help. I’ve a session of CBT booked on Monday.

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Hi Jessi_D

I hope something positive comes out of your talk with your boss' boss. It's good that HR are aware and perhaps might follow it up for you? I think your CBT session on Monday will give you an outlet to express your thoughts and feelings. Take care.

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Yes, the HR advisor said she would follow up with me.

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That's good Jessi that the advisor will follow up with you. So stressful to fight your corner but hopefully they are now listening. Not long to the weekend .... I hope you will be able to relax a little. x

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Met with my manager yesterday. He was very unhappy that I sought advice from HR about OH management advice before speaking with him first (even though he was on paternity leave). He told me to speak to him before contacting HR - more controlling behaviour. He apologised to me for misrepresenting my previous line manager when he told me that he had nothing good to say about me, only negative feedback. He couldn’t say what gave him the impression there was a personal issue. He also apologised for saying that raising a grievance would affect our working relationship, he said he spoke out of turn. He has agreed to review the OH advice together, and has approved my attendance on a training course, which is positive. He continues to insist that we have a meeting where he’ll present my written appraisal (now he wants to invite my previous line manager and his contact in HR). I’ve escalated this again to his line manager, who has asked him to hold off until they can have a structured conversation. I really hope his boss can help my manager be more effective and emotionally intelligent. I didn’t get an interview for a job that I was encouraged to apply for. I’m stressed out and wish things were going better. I’m sleeping well, appetite is OK, mood is stable, so medication seems to be working wonders. I’m seeing my parent infant psychologist today and perinatal psychiatrist tomorrow. I had my first session of CBT last Monday, but not really bought into it yet.

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Hi Jessi_D

I'm really sorry things have been stressful and complicated at work. I really hope things get easier, and that the communication with your line manager gets better, and he can be more understanding. That is hard that you didn't get a interview for a job that you were encouraged to apply for.

It's good to hear your sleep and mood are stable, so important isn't it? And it sounds like you are getting some good support from the mental health team. I really hope that it all helps. I did personally find CBT helpful, when I was struggling with depression particularly, I hope that it is helpful for you. I found it helpful particularly in challenging negative thoughts.

Take care, Ellie

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Hi Jessie_D

It sounds like you are taking every step possible to get things at work sorted. I hope things will soon become easier as it is draining having to stand up for yourself. It seems like things are moving in the right direction though so well done.

Glad to hear that its not affected your sleep, appetite etc. Your mental health is whats most important.

I hope the next meeting with your boss's boss is productive and that it will soon put an end to the behavoiur

All the best

Teresa x

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I feel terrible today, it feels like the world is against me.

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Hi Jessi_D

Sorry to hear you feel like this. Are you at home on half term? Some days are very hard so I hope you can relax tonight. Take care ... we are here to listen.

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I’ve been working this week. It’s coming from all directions.

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Hi Jessi_D, sorry to hear it’s been a tough day. I hope you’ve been able to speak to someone about how you’re feeling? If not at work then at home? I also wondered if you still had a mental health team who might be able to offer some support and ideas? I hope tomorrow is better anyway. Thinking of you and wishing you well. Xx

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My husband is also stressed, so we had a couple of arguments which made me feel worse. My Mum came over which made me feel better. She understands me so well. I’ve tried to get in touch with the Union representative today to ask for support, but couldn’t get through. I spoke to my legal advice helpline about next steps on my grievance at work. I called the Crisis team this evening, when I couldn’t get hold of my Mum and we spoke for a little while which was helpful. My psychiatrist told me that the psychologist had been trying to get hold of me, to no avail - he emailed her to keep trying. The health visitor (mental health specialist) is coming on Friday, and I’ve CBT scheduled for Monday. I also have parent Infant psychology on Wednesday. I may also get a visit from the mental health nurse next week. So lots of support in place. Fingers crossed I don’t become unwell triggered by all the stress I’m experiencing.

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Hi Jessi_D

Sometimes it's very hard to juggle work and home, especially as you have had so much stress at work lately.

I hope you will feel the benefit of counselling as the sessions progress. Try and relax tonight and if you don't feel well tomorrow, don't push yourself to go to work as too much stress is not good. Take care. x

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I’m being persecuted at work, persecuted by the nursery, it’s horrible.

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Hi Jessi_D, I'm glad your mum came over and you feel a little better. It must be very hard for you both if your husband is also stressed. It's good that you called the crisis team and have lots of support in place.

Be careful at work as you don't want to be overwhelmed in such a stressful environment. Is it possible your mum can help with issues at the nursery to give you a break? I hope you can have a restful sleep.

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The nursery contacted social services with concerns about me and Willow - her arriving with wet nappies, and something to do with the way I interact on drop off and pick up. Social services told them their case was closed and gave them my doctors details. My doctor told me today, and thinks they should speak with me directly. I’ll ensure she’s changed before drop off, and I’ve asked my husband to do drop offs and pick ups from now on. The nursery should’ve spoken with me if they had concerns, their approach has really upset me and my doctor feels very awkward about their approach too. And who gave social services consent to give my doctors details to the nursery?! There’s little my Mum can do to help, she doesn’t live nearby.

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Hi Jessie_D

Sorry you are still having so much stress with everything.

Are you able to take any time off from work in any capacity? Whenever I've been overwhelmed I've always found giving my self some breathing space has helped. Quite often this meant using leave from work or sick leave and a doctor's note if necessary for a few weeks sick with stress or however long was needed. I do understand if you dont wish to go off sick at work. For me it was always a last resort but it meant I bounced back pretty quickly. I hope things soon settle down and get sorted for you at work. Grievances do tend to drag on and are stressfull in themselves.

I am shocked that the nursery didn't approach you in the first instance with their concerns. That seems very out of order. I think asking your husband to do the drop off for now means you dont have to deal with futher stress from them. Could you at a later date ask for a meeting with the nursery with your husband present They need to explain their behaviour and how future concerns will be dealt with. You do want to keep a two way thing going with the nursery as nothing is more important, to us mums, as knowing every bit of information thats going on with our little ones during the day! If you cannot resolve things with the nursery is there any other nurseries in the area that you can go and look at?

Hope you are feeling better soon. Dont forget to look after yourself by doing what feels best for you and your family

T x

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Hello Jessi_D

I think that's a very inappropriate way for the nursery to react calling Social Services. Do they have a policy that every child arriving with a wet nappy should be referred to Social Services?? Perhaps you could speak to the Nursery Manager when you feel more able so that she can explain why they went down that road. I think it's a good idea for now to let your husband drop off your daughter and pick her up later.

I hope you can rise above all the negativity. Perhaps you can talk about the nursery with your Health Visitor (mh specialist) tomorrow. Take care and if you are at work, make sure to have regular breaks away from your office. x

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