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Occupational Health Appointment- what should I expect? I'm Terrified!

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by betty73, Mar 12, 2009.

  1. Hi everyone,
    This morning I got my appointment to see OH. I am absolutely terrified about the appointment as I don't know what to expect. Can any one shed any light for me?
    I am worried that they will make me go back to work before I am ready and that I will just end up getting 10x worse. My GP has signed me off until the end of term so can OH change this? Do they have the authority to tell me when to go back?
    What exactly do OH do? How are they supposed to help staff? Particulary staff with severe depression like me.
  2. Hi everyone,
    This morning I got my appointment to see OH. I am absolutely terrified about the appointment as I don't know what to expect. Can any one shed any light for me?
    I am worried that they will make me go back to work before I am ready and that I will just end up getting 10x worse. My GP has signed me off until the end of term so can OH change this? Do they have the authority to tell me when to go back?
    What exactly do OH do? How are they supposed to help staff? Particulary staff with severe depression like me.
    Bedlam3 likes this.
  3. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    They are there to help you.

    They will talk with you, assess the situation, and (almost certainly) confirm that you are unable to work. They will discuss with you the things that need to happen before you are ready to work, and make a report to the school recommending things they should do to help you.

    It's supportive - please don't worry!
  4. When I first went Iit was a Friday of half-term and I was expecting to return to school on Monday. They told me I wasn't ready.As Lilac says it's supportive.
  5. Please dont worry, i know how you feel though when you dont know what to expect.
    I saw them over a week ago for the first time and was sh**ing my self but the occ nurse was lovely and told me i wasnt ready to go back , even though i thought i was! They are pretty good at taking cues from you and your doc so dont worry!
    let us know how you got on.

    arty xx
  6. I just want to add my voice to those here who have posted to reassure you... OH are there to help you and make recommendations to your employer as to how you can best be supported when you are ready to return to work. They will not make you return before you are ready to - that should be agreed between you and your doctor. They will ask to see reports from your doctor so that they can assess how you are doing and they will make suggestions re: support that may be needed when you are able to return to work. In my experience, the lady I saw at OH was incredibly helpful and very understanding about what I had been through that resulted in my inability to work. She also made some great suggestions re:a phased return to work, support from my boss with paperwork etc... that I would not have had the courage to ask for myself, even though without these measures I would not have been able to return to work so soon and I may well have ended up becoming ill again.
    I hope that it all goes well xx
  7. Hi I have just been given my appointment for OccHealth and was worried but this thread has reassured me.
    The appointment is at the end of my second week back at work and the last day of term, which also concerns me. I have lots of questions and thoughts buzzing around my head about it.
    Like, what if they tell me i shouldn't be back at work yet eventhough I have gone back, What if they think i have made the whole thing up? What will they tell my school?
    I could go on and on, but thank you for the reassurence
  8. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    Why would they?
    Why would they?
    Whatever you agree to

  9. Thanks Lily
    I think I am just being paranoid.
  10. I remember being really nervous before my first OH appointment a few months ago, but it really is nothing to worry about. All I had to do was have a chat with a lady about my general health/energy levels/medication etc. and she made recommendations to my school about having a very long phased return (over 3 months in fact) and also about temporarily taking away my additional curriculum responsibilities. She then phoned every couple of weeks to review my progress. They are genuinely there to help and support you, not work against you.
  11. when I was in a not dissimilar situation, I too found them helpful and supportive - my school was very resistant to the idea that I needed a phased return and that this needed to be over quite a long period ( i.e. over 6 - 8 weeks rather than 2). They had been told this by my GP but OH backing this up made a real difference - it is a very foolish HT who goes against HT advice....
    They see success not just as' getting you back to work' but as ' getting you back to work in a way that means you stay back at work' .After a long absence this should almost as matter of course be on a phased basis so do ask about that if they don't suggest it anyway.

    By the way on a phased return ( at least in my LA and I think this must be nationally agreed?) you go back onto full pay as soon as you start going back in, and days you are not in during the phased return do not count as sick days.

    You also need to think about the Disabiity Discrimination Act - if you have suffered from depression before, or if you are still to an extent suffering from it, or likely to do so in the future - you may be covered under this - the most important aspects for now from your point of you is the employer being required to make ' reasonable adjustments' to enable you to do your job and stay well, and requirements around how absence is registered - ie. time off because of the ' disability' being logged seperately from ' other absence'
    Be honest and realistic with them - and say what YOU think you need to acheive the above. This includes the need to resolve underlying problems at work that could have contributed to you being ill, if this is the case.
    if you have not had access via GP to some ' talking therapy' they can help you access this confidentially and quickly through the employee counselling scheme - may be useful, either in general terms or as an addiitonal support during the preparing to go back, getting back into work period - co-incidentally I was still seeing the therapist I had accessed through this earlier in my absence, and having that support whilst going back into work was really helpful.

    If the school are planning to hold any ' return to work' or ' absence management meetings' either before you go back or once you are back, I would insist on having plenty notice of these to allow me to get a union rep, ideally a field officer, not school rep. to accompany me. I would NOT go to any such meeting without a union officer. be wise. also do not feel you have to agree to any ridiculous ' targets' - e.g. ' I will not have any further absence this term/ year' whatever - who the hell knows whether they will be ill, have an accident, whatever - these are nothing but a bullying tactic. Turn it around - ' How will you support me in ensuring no avoidable absence occurs' is a GREAT question and makes them focus on their duty of care instead of some apparent supernatural ability we are supposed to have to control the entire universe as it affects us!
    ( I see that car careering towards me preparing to knock me off my bike but by my sheer force of will and personality as a superb teacher who is never ill i CAN and WIll divert it from its course towards me and escape injury freeeeee...... I repel all germs, virii and other malevolent forces of nature - BEGONE and do not DARE sully the health of this superhuman teacher - BEGONE i say .. !

    hopefully you will have the same experience as those who have posted here. If you want though you CAN take someone with you - a friend, or union rep - either just as ' moral support' or to be slightly more formal and take notes of what is said etc. If you are anxious I do recommend you do take someone.

  12. fudgeface

    fudgeface Occasional commenter

    Hi betty

    I've just posted a similar question on another topic. I got a letter form my head on Saturday morning saying he wants to refer me to Occ Health. Like you I'm now in a complete panic. hopefully the other posts have put your mind at rest.

    How much longer do you expect to be off work?

    This is my second bout of depression and so far I've been off about 3 weeks. I was due to go back yesterday but am seeing the dr again today. Am hoping to go back for the last 2 days before the holiday to break myself in gently before the holiday.

    Hope you are ok. It would be nice to hear form you

  13. Hi everyone,
    Firstly, thankyou so so much for all of your comments, advice and wellwishes. You have really helped to put my mind at ease. I apologise for not posting again before now but my computer has gremlins which have not been letting me post for some reason!?!
    I will let you all know how it goes with OH on Thursday...ahhhh!
    Also wanted to ask peoples opinions... a lot of my problems are to do with my childhood etc but some are also to do with my work, therefore many people are advising me to find a new job............My DREAM job has come up at a local school and I really want to go for it. The problem is,the closing date is this week and I am still off sick and I don't know what to do! I know that if my current headteacher got a reference request while I was off ill then he would go absolutely MENTAL. Am i able to request that the new school doesn't apply for a refernce unless I am offered the job? On the plus side the new school does actually know me as I did some training there years ag and so are more likely to agree.
    Also, I feel that I should be honest and tell them about my depression so that it is not a 'nasty shock' were they to apply for a reference and see my 3 months off work, I was thinking of including a separate page with a brief postscript explaining my situation and also saying how it has made me stronger etc, what do you think? (Unfortunately I am not better yet and I know that it will take time but I know that come September I WILL be fit for work, also a new school would solve half of my problems!)
    I am also worried about what would happen if I am invited for interview as my brain is so dead at the moment. My concentration and memory are awful and even going to see the doctor can exhaust me for a few days so much so that I can barely speak. I know that at interview I could put on my 'fake Betty' face and fake happiness and being well but is this wrong of me to do so?
    Sorry for the mountain of questions, I just feel like on here people understand me and that I can be honest and neurotic and paranoid and that people still trreat me wonderfully anyway!
    Fudgeface, this is now my 3rd month off. Initially I refused to believe that there was anything wrong with me until it was too late. This is my 2nd time off work with depression (last time was only 2 weeks) but it is my 5th depressive 'episode'. Please add me as a friend if you would like to chat.
    Love to you all and thank you so much.
    Betty xxx

  14. Hi again Betty
    I'm glad you're feeling a bit calmer about your appointment now!
    I can't give any advice on the reference situation, but think I may be able to help a bit with the interview info. As I posted before, I had a serious illness in September and have only just gone back to work full-time. I am at the stage in my career when I am looking for a promoted post, and actually had an interview yesterday. I too was extremely worried about 'forgetting' everything and not being able to answer their questions properly. I stressed about it all weekend, and even considered withdrawing. I think being that ill seriously dented my confidence and I was worried they would think I was crazy for even thinking about taking on such a big role at the school I applied to.
    In the end, it was actually fine - I put on a fake happy face and was ok once I had got into the swing of things. I decided that the school wasn't for me though and so pulled out at lunchtime, but I am glad I went for it. If you do get an interview, you will be fine and get through it. It would be such a shame to miss out on your dream job because you are doubting yourself.
    You will get there in the end - it's just going to take time. Hope OH goes well x

  15. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    I got a job whilst signed off sick. I haven't been off since. If you are worried about your head's reaction go for an informal visit and see if it is worth the risk.
    My new place is great and went out of their way to help me get over the impact that the bullying had on me. You spend a lot of time at work and it is important to be happy.
    QueenieBianca likes this.
  16. fudgeface

    fudgeface Occasional commenter

    Hi Betty

    thanks for your reply

    hope all goes well at your appointment today. My doctor was very sweet when I said I was aiming to go back to work for the last 2 days before the holiday and said there was no way I should be aiming to think that far ahead - then signed me off for 28 days wanting to see me again in 2 weeks!

    I'm going to email my head (printer not working so can't send a letter) and be up front. doctor has said I've actually improved since the last time she saw me - so that's good!

    Make the most of this lovely weather Betty - wan't it a fabulous day. Do things that make you happy

    Take care - keep in touch - I will add you to my friends list - I haven't got any yet as I've not been posting long!

  17. Hey,
    My OH appointment was actually ok. The doctor I saw was great and really sympathetic and was easy to talk to. He said that none of this is my fault and that he thinks my work have been really unsupportive and are to blame as well as my childhood issues...it was just good to hear someone say this.
    He seems to think i'm going to need more time off work which is scary as I need to go back in a month for financial reasons. He is also going to write to my work and basically tell them off which is weird as he actually works for them.
    Fudgeface- i've added you as a friend!
    Thanks to everyone for your kind words and your support. xxx[​IMG]
  18. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    I'd get a copy of that letter. My OH doctor was very nice, but I was less than happy with the information he gave to the Head.
  19. Really? I hope this doc is ok...i'm worrying now!
    Can I ask what your doc said/how he phrased it that made you unhappy? I've been pretty open with my school (maybe too much so as they just ignore me like i'm an alien or something) so hopefully nothing should be too new for them, although they may not like hearing that the doc thinks that they have caused a lot of my problems.
  20. if this is about going onto half pay - they can sometimes extend full pay - worth asking union to approach - argue return could be imminent but stress of financial loss at this point could be catastrophic and have adverse effect on recovery etc - can they extend in anticipation of beginning a phased return soon - if that is how things are going - also talk to union about financial support - and write to any creditors mortgage people, utilities provders NOW, explain circumstances, negotiate reduced or suspended payments for a period - work up a standard letter and statement of income and expenditure for them all - askk for say 2 months for now - to prevent things progressing to a crisis if you are not quite back and don't succeed in getting them to extend it - a hassle to do but not as much as the grief you would have if payments start going down the toilet and they all start phoning you and writing to you! be pro-active and feel in control - will help you anyway!

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