Remploy’s support helps Caroline stay in work
Forty-one year old Caroline Jackson from Leeds, has struggled with Bipolar Disorder ever since she was a teenager but was only formally diagnosed in her late 30’s. The highs and lows of the condition would range from feeling hopeless and “shutting out the world”, to extreme highs where she would have great ideas and make erratic big purchases, like a new car.
“That was a very expensive high moment!” she said. “I have also bought other things on a high such as online courses. I had good intentions to complete them but I would come crashing back down and would then beat myself up even more about spending money I couldn't really afford.”
After taking sick leave from her job as an Income Management Officer for a housing association, Caroline was dreading the thought of going back to work. She spoke to her Occupational Health Department who suggested the free and confidential Access To Work Workplace Mental Health Support Service, which Remploy operates on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.
The service is personalised and supports individuals with all mental health issues which are affecting their work including, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.
“The support I got from Remploy was a real turning point for me. My Vocational Rehabilitation Coach Diane, worked with me to put a work support strategy in place, then she liaised directly with my line manager Lee and the Head of Corporate Services, Jill who helped to make reasonable adjustments and improve my working environment to make me feel more settled. I was given my own work station rather than constantly hot-desking and a headset to make calls easier and less distracting.
“I have struggled for years with my grammar and English, so Diane helped me access training to improve my skills and build up confidence in my written ability. Courses in mindfulness and meditation also helped me cope with any daily pressures.”
“Diane was always on the end of the phone if I needed her and she stayed in regular contact. My manager has always been supportive but Diane helped to give her a better understanding of my condition and she supported both of us to make sure everything was okay.”
After 14 years with her employer Caroline is looking forward to a bright future with the company and the introduction of a new agile working scheme is helping her manage her hours and give greater flexibility.
She said: “I wish I’d known about my condition and Remploy’s support earlier, as it could have helped me to avoid going off sick in the first place. Being on long-term sick is not good for someone with Bipolar Disorder as the routine of getting up and going to work is actually really helpful in managing the condition.
“My diagnosis wasn’t easy to accept at first, as I worried about how I would be judged. I quickly realised however that I am still me; the work colleague, the daughter, the sister, the auntie, the friend and the animal lover, only now I know that it is okay to not be okay and to talk about it.”
For more information about the free Workplace Mental Health Support Service, contact Remploy on 0300 456 8114 or visit www.remploy.co.uk/mentalhealth.