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Success Story: Moving From Feeling Powerless to Empowerment

Health complications can greatly impact an employee’s ability to work. Some health issues are physical in nature, and therefore, more visible. However, some health issues aren’t as apparent and can still limit a person’s ability to focus at work.

Mental health conditions often affect thinking, mood, behavior and how an individual socially interacts with others. Unless openly discussed, mental health issues can remain largely invisible in the workplace.

Recently, the Workplace PossibilitiesSM program helped an office employee who was experiencing some challenges due to anxiety and panic attacks. Her job not only required her to travel, but also to work from the office, when in town. Additionally, the personal issues that led to her condition were greatly affecting her ability to perform any work, and she was working a reduced schedule from her home. At risk of going on a disability leave, she sought help from her employer and its disability consultant.

The employee shared a multitude of concerns about her ability to work due to the issues in her personal life that were affecting her daily routine. This included a fear of leaving her home, answering the phone and being too close to windows.

The consultant’s goal was to have the employee return to work full time. The consultant worked with her to better understand her condition and see what types of accommodations could help subdue her anxieties. Changes were made, including having someone else answer her phone, moving her workspace to an interior space away from windows, providing counseling support, supplying a personal travel companion and requiring sensitivity training at the workplace, helping her to gain (and maintain) the respect she deserved. These accommodations got her from part-time status to being back at work full time again.

Opportunities to lead a quality life with a mental health condition are only possible with the collaboration of everyone involved. With the willingness and support of her employer, she moved from feeling completely powerless to feeling empowered — and valued. Now that’s good for anyone’s health.


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