According to the Office of National Statistics, an estimated 137.3 million working days were lost due to sickness or injury in the UK in 2016. Of those, 15.8 million days, 11%, were related to illnesses such as stress and anxiety. We know that mental ill health can affect anyone at any time, and this is what happened with Neil, who found himself signed off from work by his GP.
“I was off work for six-months and had been trying to get into IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) but hadn’t had any success. After seeing my GP, they suggested that I could try this thing called Working Win. I hadn’t heard about it before then, but the GP chatted to me about what the trial is and how it might help. I looked online, filled out the form and someone got back to me straight away. It was really easy to be honest.
“When I came for my first appointment I met with the lady and we just had a chat about my situation, why I was off work, what I was looking for and how the trial might be able to help. After that, it was just a few questions and then I went through the randomisation process.
“The first step for me to get back to work was to write up an action plan. I set up some SMART (Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant and Timely) goals so that I knew what it was I wanted, and how I was going to get there. I really wanted to get help from IAPT, but I’m not good on computers and IAPT is all online, so that was a big barrier for me. Once I had some support to get on to the service it wasn’t long before I started a six-week course with them.
“One of my main goals was to get back to work. I had been off for six-months and had already tried to return to work twice but was unsuccessful. After two months of trying to get help with it I finally got the support I needed to have a chat with my employer, and presented them with some suggested options that would help. They took to it really well and we agreed on a phased return with some other adjustments that would make work much better for me.
“I had tried a phased return previously, and was doing four hours a day, but what I didn’t realise is that I wasn’t supposed to get all of my regular work done in that time! I was pushing myself too hard. After having a conversation about it, my boss said “I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work!” I was only expected to do what I could do in that time, and after realising that it made things a whole lot easier!
“Once I had a plan to identify the things that I could do, and the things my manager could do, it made it much simpler to work together. Some things were really simple; like taking 5 minutes out if I needed to. Other things, like having to place orders online - well I didn’t have a problem doing it, but I didn’t have the training that I needed. Now I’ve got that training I feel happy and comfortable to do my job.
“I feel really happy to have returned to work, it’s made a big difference to my health and my confidence. I’ve even just been awarded employee of the month!”
Neil signed up to Working Win earlier this year. Supported by NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Department for Work and Pensions; Working Win is a free trial testing a new type of support for people with mental or physical health conditions that are affecting their work or their ability to find a job. If you live in South Yorkshire or Bassetlaw, you can learn more and refer yourself to the trial here.