Mental Health at Work: Amy's story on facing disciplinary action after disclosing a mental health issue

The Mental Health at Work 2018 report in conjunction with Mercer found that 11% of respondents who disclosed a mental health issue faced disciplinary action, demotion or dismissal. Amy told us her story.

 

Six months ago, Amy (38) left her job at a large financial services organisation following disciplinary action, after her mental health started to affect her work. Amy describes the experience she had
as “horrific” and has left her feeling “once bitten, twice shy” about discussing her mental health at work in future. 

Amy previously considered herself to have good mental health. However, following the death of her father she struggled to cope, and was diagnosed with anxiety and depression by her doctor. “I lost my dad and it was like something switched in my brain. I went from being positive to seeing the bad in everything; I made mistakes at work and couldn’t take in information.”

Amy began to make small mistakes at work, which were picked up by her line manager. After being pulled up for these errors and threatened with disciplinary action, Amy felt she had to take “reactive
action” and explained to her line manager what she was going through. Amy suggested that a temporary reduction of responsibility would help to relieve pressure. Her line manager gave her the number for an EAP and said, if she continued to make mistakes, she would be subject to disciplinary action. “I felt completely unsupported and that my job was at risk. I thought ‘if I do end up leaving,
then I’ll have a disciplinary under my belt.’

Your thoughts spiral out of control. You think ‘I’ll have to find a new job, I have a mortgage to pay.’” Amy was diagnosed with work-related stress and continued to struggle with concentration at work. After another mistake she faced a disciplinary panel and had to ‘tell my story all over again to strangers’. HR dismissed the case but Amy was asked to take a stress test and still felt unsupported. “It was a case of ‘fill that in, hand it in, that’s that.’ They didn’t discuss it or ask how I was feeling. At that point I started looking for another job.”