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  • Maeve Waite

    Maeve Waite

    24 year old work psychologist, mental health advocate and future dachshund owner. occasional writer, baker and photo taker. posts have been featured on time to change and mental movement magazine, and I sometimes like to write all lower case.

    Mental Health at Work | #4 | Amy, Claire & Khyle


    Today's post is the fourth in the Mental Health at Work series, featuring Amy, Claire & Khyle. You can read my own story of mental health in the workplace here.

    Amy


    Has your mental health been affected by your work or affected your ability to work? Can you explain how? 
    My mental health and work didn’t greatly affect each other until recently. This is currently my fourth week of being signed off of work (I return next week). I work in the care sector which is very demanding and over the festive period I felt very isolated and alone due to my shift pattern which did not bode well with my mental health. As well as this, I continuously felt as though I wasn’t good enough due to comment made in the workplace. As a result, I felt the lowest I have in two years and made the decision to go to my GP who signed me off. Despite being labelled fit for work by my GP and able to return I have asked to be placed on a set shift pattern and am worried that the issues will return. However, I have an interview (yay!) and hope to be in a healthier work environment ASAP.

    Were you supported at work? If not, what helped you deal with the situation? 
    I’m indifferent about this. A colleague of mine was off and there was a lot of workplace gossip about her which was a shame. Although my manager/colleagues seem supportive face to face curious as to what’s been said when I’m not there. I’ve also been made aware of some comments my manager has made in my absence.

    What do you think are the biggest problems in companies in terms of MH in the workplace?
    I think there’s room for improvement within every company. Supporting colleagues with mental health issues is crucial and I don’t think a lack of support is always intentional and may just be due to a lack of awareness/knowledge.

    What do you think companies could do that would help support people with mental health issues at work? 
    I think companies should strive to deliver training on mental health to employees - most importantly those in managerial positions.

    You can find Amy on Twitter at @AmyWhoWrites!

                                             

    Claire


    Has your mental health been affected by your work or affected your ability to work? Can you explain how? 
    Definitely! As a teacher, the scrutiny & workload crippled me. I constantly compared myself negatively to ‘superhuman’ (as was my perception) colleagues & criticising myself for not measuring up (as was my perception). There was no time for down time or self care & even if there had been, there was an unspoken competitiveness about who had got the most done or ridiculously who had the most to do! After the death of my father I finally broke & was unable to continue teaching. I blogged about it all in my blog post The Mystery of the Missing Sparkle.

    Were you supported at work? If not, what helped you deal with the situation? 
    I had one colleague who was incredibly supportive & who I supported in return. Twitter chats helped me feel like I wasn’t alone (or completely mad!) but I was conscious of something feeling really wrong for a very long time before I could actually verbalise it, or realise I had the power to change it.

    What do you think are the biggest problems in companies in terms of MH in the workplace?
    In teaching, there was always so much to do that many just power through, however, there are a lot of teachers signed off on long term sickness. There are phased returns & reductions in hours/timetables etc. but any MH ‘training’ in schools feels very much like a tick box exercise - something which is occasionally addressed but at an extremely shallow level. I heard it stated often that to be a teacher you need a ‘thick skin’!

    What do you think companies could do that would help support people with mental health issues at work?
    As a teacher, despite being constantly surrounded by students & colleagues, I felt more alone than ever because every single minute was accounted for - lessons HAD to be delivered, break duties HAD to be done & books HAD to be marked, regardless of your state of mind. Therefore, in any job, I think it’s important to be realistic about workload expectations.

    You can find Claire on her blog, Homebird Hang-Ups, on twitter at @homebirdhangups, and on Instagram here!
                                             

    Khyle


    Has your mental health been affected by your work or affected your ability to work? Can you explain how? 
    My mental health was affected in work back in December 2013, it was the 21st of December, so right before Christmas, not the best time for a traumatic experience... I was working in McDonalds, it was 7:21pm, it was quiet, so I began restocking the drink cups, the lids and straws and everything else, when a man approached the counter. His face was covered, he yelled something about giving him money, and me and a manager looked at each other with a slight laugh, thinking it was a joke. Then he banged on the counter with a hammer, demanding again.... naturally I froze. 
    It was then that another man walked through the barrier behind the counter, his face too was covered, he yelled at me, I said, 'ok hold on!' We obviously can’t just open the till, I needed a manager’s card, we opened the tills and gave them the money. I was punched in the side of the face, which wasn’t nice as I had ear surgery on that side not even 6 months prior to this incident. After giving statements to the police and calming down after everything, I called my mum to pick me up, and I went home. This is still today, probably the worst day of my life, thankfully somewhat tame compared to other situations, but it’s still quite terrifying to have your life threatened, especially while you’re working. Fast forward to today, and I’ve yet to stay in a job longer than 4 months (the length of time I was at McDonalds), I even began working in fast food again; this time at Burger King. I stepped back behind a counter, which I’m proud of, but the feelings of anxiety and worry soon came back, so I left. This happens often with jobs unfortunately - I get anxiety attacks and bouts of worry and stress that something may happen again. I deal with them when they happen, and I manage to subdue them. I’m hopeful that one day they’ll completely go away and I will be able to work normally again, but that has yet to happen in a customer facing role such as retail. I’m currently looking for work, and while looking for work, I manage a creative news website to keep my busy and to gain creative experience. My long term goal is to start my own business running a wrestling based news website. Money is my obstacle right now, but I’m determined to set my website up in the future and have my own business doing something that I love and am passionate about.

    Were you supported at work? If not, what helped you deal with the situation? 
    McDonalds were incredibly supportive thankfully - they gave me plenty of time off to heal mentally, even paying me during my time off. I went back for several shifts, working solely in the kitchen, then I worked my way back to the counter, before having to give up due to my anxiety and fear of it happening again, which was most prominent during a quiet night in the restaurant. I’m eternally thankful for their support during that time though, and I’m ok setting foot in the restaurant which is a big step for someone like me, an introverted, shy guy.
    I deal with my anxiety in different ways, music is a big healer of mine, so powerful and I’m thankful for the role music plays in my life, I also love to write, that helps me greatly. Meditation and mindfulness is beneficial to no end, I recommend those techniques to anyone suffering with mental health, hopefully it works for anybody. I’m an incredibly positive person, always focusing on the good in people and the light that shines in this world, all about showing love and peace. To anyone suffering from mental health issues like me, I wish you all so much love, light and peace along with many blessings. I’m here if anybody needs me, day or night, the best way to reach me is on Twitter; my DMs are always open and I’m here for anybody and everybody that may need me.


    What do you think are the biggest problems in companies in terms of MH in the workplace?
    I think some of the biggest problems are a failure of understanding, some bosses are ignorant to mental health issues, they just focus on the work and the profits and achievements, when people could do with a lot more guidance and support.

    What do you think companies could do that would help support people with mental health issues at work?
    I think a more relaxed approach to the workplace, especially in demanding jobs like retail and the food industry, for example, in supermarkets, changing roles for those with mental health issues, moving them to a quieter or less stressful part of the store at times when they need it, quietening the store as and when possible, turning the music down, reducing queues and encouraging the pace of the store to slow down a little bit more often. I think methods such as these would be a great start in supporting those with mental health issues. For those that work in offices, perhaps days out, leisurely activities and a bit more of a focus on personal lives and feeling good, positive affirmative team building exercises to bring everyone together and encourage unity, not to mention bring a bit more fun into the workplace at times.

    You can find Khyle on Twitter at @KhyleDeen.

    If you're interested in being featured on the MHAW series, please feel free to get in touch - details on the contact page!

    M x

    Today's post is the fourth in the Mental Health at Work series, featuring Amy, Claire & Khyle. You can read my own story of mental health in the workplace here.

    Amy


    Has your mental health been affected by your work or affected your ability to work? Can you explain how? 
    My mental health and work didn’t greatly affect each other until recently. This is currently my fourth week of being signed off of work (I return next week). I work in the care sector which is very demanding and over the festive period I felt very isolated and alone due to my shift pattern which did not bode well with my mental health. As well as this, I continuously felt as though I wasn’t good enough due to comment made in the workplace. As a result, I felt the lowest I have in two years and made the decision to go to my GP who signed me off. Despite being labelled fit for work by my GP and able to return I have asked to be placed on a set shift pattern and am worried that the issues will return. However, I have an interview (yay!) and hope to be in a healthier work environment ASAP.

    Were you supported at work? If not, what helped you deal with the situation? 
    I’m indifferent about this. A colleague of mine was off and there was a lot of workplace gossip about her which was a shame. Although my manager/colleagues seem supportive face to face curious as to what’s been said when I’m not there. I’ve also been made aware of some comments my manager has made in my absence.

    What do you think are the biggest problems in companies in terms of MH in the workplace?
    I think there’s room for improvement within every company. Supporting colleagues with mental health issues is crucial and I don’t think a lack of support is always intentional and may just be due to a lack of awareness/knowledge.

    What do you think companies could do that would help support people with mental health issues at work? 
    I think companies should strive to deliver training on mental health to employees - most importantly those in managerial positions.

    You can find Amy on Twitter at @AmyWhoWrites!

                                             

    Claire


    Has your mental health been affected by your work or affected your ability to work? Can you explain how? 
    Definitely! As a teacher, the scrutiny & workload crippled me. I constantly compared myself negatively to ‘superhuman’ (as was my perception) colleagues & criticising myself for not measuring up (as was my perception). There was no time for down time or self care & even if there had been, there was an unspoken competitiveness about who had got the most done or ridiculously who had the most to do! After the death of my father I finally broke & was unable to continue teaching. I blogged about it all in my blog post The Mystery of the Missing Sparkle.

    Were you supported at work? If not, what helped you deal with the situation? 
    I had one colleague who was incredibly supportive & who I supported in return. Twitter chats helped me feel like I wasn’t alone (or completely mad!) but I was conscious of something feeling really wrong for a very long time before I could actually verbalise it, or realise I had the power to change it.

    What do you think are the biggest problems in companies in terms of MH in the workplace?
    In teaching, there was always so much to do that many just power through, however, there are a lot of teachers signed off on long term sickness. There are phased returns & reductions in hours/timetables etc. but any MH ‘training’ in schools feels very much like a tick box exercise - something which is occasionally addressed but at an extremely shallow level. I heard it stated often that to be a teacher you need a ‘thick skin’!

    What do you think companies could do that would help support people with mental health issues at work?
    As a teacher, despite being constantly surrounded by students & colleagues, I felt more alone than ever because every single minute was accounted for - lessons HAD to be delivered, break duties HAD to be done & books HAD to be marked, regardless of your state of mind. Therefore, in any job, I think it’s important to be realistic about workload expectations.

    You can find Claire on her blog, Homebird Hang-Ups, on twitter at @homebirdhangups, and on Instagram here!
                                             

    Khyle


    Has your mental health been affected by your work or affected your ability to work? Can you explain how? 
    My mental health was affected in work back in December 2013, it was the 21st of December, so right before Christmas, not the best time for a traumatic experience... I was working in McDonalds, it was 7:21pm, it was quiet, so I began restocking the drink cups, the lids and straws and everything else, when a man approached the counter. His face was covered, he yelled something about giving him money, and me and a manager looked at each other with a slight laugh, thinking it was a joke. Then he banged on the counter with a hammer, demanding again.... naturally I froze. 
    It was then that another man walked through the barrier behind the counter, his face too was covered, he yelled at me, I said, 'ok hold on!' We obviously can’t just open the till, I needed a manager’s card, we opened the tills and gave them the money. I was punched in the side of the face, which wasn’t nice as I had ear surgery on that side not even 6 months prior to this incident. After giving statements to the police and calming down after everything, I called my mum to pick me up, and I went home. This is still today, probably the worst day of my life, thankfully somewhat tame compared to other situations, but it’s still quite terrifying to have your life threatened, especially while you’re working. Fast forward to today, and I’ve yet to stay in a job longer than 4 months (the length of time I was at McDonalds), I even began working in fast food again; this time at Burger King. I stepped back behind a counter, which I’m proud of, but the feelings of anxiety and worry soon came back, so I left. This happens often with jobs unfortunately - I get anxiety attacks and bouts of worry and stress that something may happen again. I deal with them when they happen, and I manage to subdue them. I’m hopeful that one day they’ll completely go away and I will be able to work normally again, but that has yet to happen in a customer facing role such as retail. I’m currently looking for work, and while looking for work, I manage a creative news website to keep my busy and to gain creative experience. My long term goal is to start my own business running a wrestling based news website. Money is my obstacle right now, but I’m determined to set my website up in the future and have my own business doing something that I love and am passionate about.

    Were you supported at work? If not, what helped you deal with the situation? 
    McDonalds were incredibly supportive thankfully - they gave me plenty of time off to heal mentally, even paying me during my time off. I went back for several shifts, working solely in the kitchen, then I worked my way back to the counter, before having to give up due to my anxiety and fear of it happening again, which was most prominent during a quiet night in the restaurant. I’m eternally thankful for their support during that time though, and I’m ok setting foot in the restaurant which is a big step for someone like me, an introverted, shy guy.
    I deal with my anxiety in different ways, music is a big healer of mine, so powerful and I’m thankful for the role music plays in my life, I also love to write, that helps me greatly. Meditation and mindfulness is beneficial to no end, I recommend those techniques to anyone suffering with mental health, hopefully it works for anybody. I’m an incredibly positive person, always focusing on the good in people and the light that shines in this world, all about showing love and peace. To anyone suffering from mental health issues like me, I wish you all so much love, light and peace along with many blessings. I’m here if anybody needs me, day or night, the best way to reach me is on Twitter; my DMs are always open and I’m here for anybody and everybody that may need me.


    What do you think are the biggest problems in companies in terms of MH in the workplace?
    I think some of the biggest problems are a failure of understanding, some bosses are ignorant to mental health issues, they just focus on the work and the profits and achievements, when people could do with a lot more guidance and support.

    What do you think companies could do that would help support people with mental health issues at work?
    I think a more relaxed approach to the workplace, especially in demanding jobs like retail and the food industry, for example, in supermarkets, changing roles for those with mental health issues, moving them to a quieter or less stressful part of the store at times when they need it, quietening the store as and when possible, turning the music down, reducing queues and encouraging the pace of the store to slow down a little bit more often. I think methods such as these would be a great start in supporting those with mental health issues. For those that work in offices, perhaps days out, leisurely activities and a bit more of a focus on personal lives and feeling good, positive affirmative team building exercises to bring everyone together and encourage unity, not to mention bring a bit more fun into the workplace at times.

    You can find Khyle on Twitter at @KhyleDeen.

    If you're interested in being featured on the MHAW series, please feel free to get in touch - details on the contact page!

    M x
    . Thursday, 15 March 2018 .

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