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Case Study - Clinical Depression in the Workplace

Clinical Depression at Work - Claire's Story

How Claire and her employer managed her clinical depression in the workplace.

"I have had personal experience of managing clinical depression. After experiencing discrimination in the workplace due to my past history of severe clinical depression, I made a full recovery in part due to effective management at my job as Education Officer for a race equality charity. My employer knew about my medical history from the beginning, and was open and supportive. On my part, I had chosen a job that I knew I would have the stamina to do the work effectively.

"When starting to relapse, I was able to talk to my employer at an early stage, who made reasonable adjustments for me. I didn't feel well in the mornings, and was able to come into work an hour later, and leave an hour later. This meant that I was able to complete my work, but also able to manage my condition, and quickly get better again. After a couple of weeks, I was able to return to work at normal working hours. This simple procedure was very different from previous employers, who were not supportive and where my condition and work got worse."

"My history of clinical depression came out in one of my references, and my employer brought it up with me in a meeting we had just before I started the job. She was very warm, open and caring about it - simply asking if there was anything they could do, if I'd tried CBT/what I found helpful in terms of managing it. There wasn't the need for other adjustments, but the fact that it was in the open and I felt supported, helped me to relax, knowing that (like any other health condition) I didn't need to hide it.

"Overall, my employer was mindful of my stress levels, and at the end of our fortnightly one to one supervision meetings would sometimes ask me how I was doing, if I felt OK/supported enough at work. At times when things were quite stressful at work, and I was getting unusually agitated, she would bring it in our supervision meetings. She would simply point out that I seemed quite stressed, and try and find a way of working around the issue.

"I think she may have been familiar with mental ill health, making her more aware if people were starting to relapse. However, for other managers, I do think this is a training issue, and they can learn how to identify signs of mental health problems and provide a suitable working environment."