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Thursday 02 January 2020

On your case: Recovering from stress-induced ill health

By Tommy Newell
solarseven / Shutterstock.com

After workload pressures put her health at risk, an FDA member tells Tommy Newell how her union’s “additional expertise and care” helped her to navigate through a complicated recovery process.

“I had become ill mainly because of unhealthy stress and working practices in my job,” the member explained. “I had sought help from various sources in my department before becoming ill, but nothing had really changed in my situation, so I had carried on trying to meet the demands placed on me… Initially it didn’t occur to me to contact the union as I felt that I could manage things by myself.”

As someone who “really enjoys their work”, the member found it hard to step back, mainly due to feeling like she would be letting others down. Despite being a “resilient” person and a high performer in her work, she soon realised this didn’t mean she was going to be able to get through this challenging experience “without the additional expertise and care the union was able to provide”.

She contacted her local FDA rep, who, after providing some initial advice, passed the case onto the FDA head office when the health and welfare aspects of the case became more apparent.

“The FDA specialist quickly stepped in to help – I had a number of phone calls with the officer assigned to my case, who informed me of the procedures my HR was meant to be following, and helped me navigate these. They also accompanied me to meetings with HR and my management on my case, after having helped me prepare what I needed to get across in these meetings.”

The member naturally wanted to get back to work “as quickly as possible” and the FDA supported her throughout her return to work, while also ensuring that the department handled this appropriately, without adversely  affecting her wellbeing.

“The FDA was very clear about me needing to follow occupational health advice on the pace at which I should return to work, and provided a listening ear on all the times I felt frustrated about how slow my recovery seemed to be,” she explained. “Overall, the support and advice from the FDA has been outstanding, and I couldn’t have done without it.”

According to the member, this whole experience has made her “truly appreciate the concepts of wellbeing and resilience” as well as “the need to look after yourself to ensure your long-term health”.

“It’s easy to lose sight of this, particularly at times when resources are so stretched because large parts of departments are working on Brexit planning,” she added. “However, true resilience is having the ability and confidence to turn down unreasonable or shorter term demands in order to protect yourself and your own needs, to ensure you can continue to perform over the longer term.”

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