A 47-year-old senior manager from Gateshead, who experienced mental health issues that threatened his career, is one of more than 5,000 people who have used the Workplace Mental Health Support Service
A 47-year-old senior manager from Gateshead, who experienced mental health issues that threatened his career, is one of more than 5,000 people who have taken advantage of a free support service which has helped them save their jobs.
As assistant director of operations for a major social housing provider in the North East, Chris Reed had little choice but to take time away from his job whilst he learned to understand and manage his mental health challenges.
However, with his employer fully behind him he was determined not to lose the career he had spent many years building, and sought support from disability employment specialists Remploy which operates the free and confidential Workplace Mental Health Support Service as part of the Government’s Access to Work programme.
The service has supported more than 5,000 people across Britain and has achieved an impressive 92% success rate of people retaining their employment six months after joining the programme.
The service has also been
endorsed by Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson who said: "I
know that disabled people want the same chance as anyone else to fulfil their
potential in the workplace. But still too often I hear of people with mental
health conditions falling out of work. This isn't acceptable. Often only minor
changes are needed for employers to be able to benefit from the enormous talent
amongst disabled people"
"Remploy are making a big difference with their mental health support service and it's through partnerships like this that disabled people can get the independence they deserve."
Chris has made a video in which he describes his mental health challenges and the support he received to help him manage his condition.
He said: “I am a very active person, and I had always used my love of sport and personal fitness as a means of staying strong. However, when I injured my back severely a year ago, all this changed overnight. My sleep patterns were disrupted and this had a significant impact on my mental wellbeing. I lost the ability to use physical activity as an escape from the inevitable pressures of my job and my depression and levels of anxiety increased considerably. I was unable to concentrate and undertake everyday tasks, let alone think clearly about the decisions I had to make. Life became very difficult.”
Chris already knew about Remploy’s vocational rehabilitation services. Previously, he had used their services to train colleagues and help them recognise and manage mental health issues, personally and amongst tenants who also faced challenging circumstances.
“Fortunately, because of this I was able to spot the warning signs in myself and I went to see my GP, who referred me straightaway for counselling,” he said. “Whilst this was certainly a step in the right direction it just wasn’t enough and it felt as though I was in freefall. I developed intrusive thoughts and was obsessively worried about everyday things I would normally have taken for granted as part of life.”
Remploy’s trained advisors provided the additional support Chris needed. The service offers focused support for six months tailored to the needs of individual users and their employers. Support includes helping users to identify appropriate coping strategies, creating personal support plans so that users can stay in their jobs, and providing help for employers so that they can support colleagues who already have, or are developing, a mental health condition.
“Remploy’s speedy intervention really was my saving grace. My advisor Claire talked the right language and was completely non-judgmental in everything she said,” Chris added. “She and her team of therapists helped me understand what was happening, and they spoke at great length to my employer to help them understand how they could best support me. Of course, I was fearful at first about how my health issues would be regarded by those around me in the workplace, but this proved to be misplaced anxiety. By communicating with both sides, Remploy helped me and my employer avoid creating a hole into which I would easily fall into again.”
“My experiences have helped me change the person I am, mostly for the better,” said Chris. “I am more confident, able to freely mix with others, and I am not afraid of speaking out when I see problems arising. I cannot say I have fully recovered and I probably never will. But I can see things more clearly now, spot the signals, and take action to help retain a better perspective. Remploy helped me to see, understand and address the warning signs.”
Employers and individuals can find out more about this free support service by contacting: 0300 4568114
For further information and interview requests, please contact:
David Felton 07803 214682
Notes to Editors:
- Remploy was established 70 years ago to provide training and employment after the Second World War for injured and disabled ex-servicemen and miners.
- Since 2010, Remploy has found more than 100,000 jobs in mainstream employment for people with a range of physical, sensory and learning disabilities, mental health conditions and other disadvantages.
- Remploy works with more than 2,500 employer partners including Marks & Spencer, TC Facilities Management, BT, Mitie, ASDA, Royal Mail, Sainsbury’s and the NHS
- Remploy operates a free Workplace Mental Health Support Service to help maintain in employment people with stress, depression, anxiety or other mental health issues
- It invests in developing innovative services for employers which are cost effective and business efficient including consultancy and a vocational rehabilitation service
- In March 2015, Remploy entered into a joint venture with MAXIMUS, a leading operator of government health and human services programmes in the United States, UK, Canada, Australia and Saudi Arabia and on 7 April 2015 Remploy left government ownership in the joint venture in which Remploy employees have a 30% stake.