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Occupational Health

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Pavonine, Dec 3, 2017.

  1. Pavonine

    Pavonine New commenter

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve been reading the forum for a long time but haven’t found any information regarding my situation.

    I recently requested that my school refer me to occupational health due to mental health difficulties. This seems to be taking a long time, and I was just wondering if anybody can give me any information about the process of referral, timescales etc? I’d like to be more aware of what the whole process entails so I can find out whether I am waiting for my Head to take action or whether I’m waiting for OH.

    Thanks
     
  2. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    Sorry to hear you health isn't good.

    I'm afraid I don't know an exact answer to your question. It could be different in different parts of the country, depending on demand.
    Is it possible to ring OH yourself and ask them?
    How long is "a long time"?
    Take care.
     
    Pavonine likes this.
  3. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I suspect that each school has its own policy on the matter. That'd be why you can't get a definitive answer on TES.

    Look at your school policies AND get in touch with the HT and OH. No reason why not. It is your responsibility as an employee to look after your own H & S so get right on it.

    And best wishes.
     
    Pomza and Pavonine like this.
  4. Pavonine

    Pavonine New commenter

    I spoke to a friend who used to be a head teacher and they said that essentially, my Head only needs to complete a form and email it to get the ball rolling.

    I requested to be referred to occupational health two weeks ago on a Monday. It was a request over the phone as I was off ill for that day with unrelated physical illness. I tried to meet with the Head throughout that week to discuss it further, they avoided me all week.
    The Tuesday after, I emailed asking to discuss it and we met the following morning. At that point, they asked why I wanted to be referred (they are fully aware of my current mental health) so obviously nothing had been done in the previous week and a half. On Friday I had a very difficult day and broke down at work, though the Head was not in school I asked the assistant head to please find out where we are up to with OH. Heard nothing so I emailed on Friday evening asking for updates, just got a reply “will do”. At this stage I don’t even think a referral has been made, as the friend mentioned above that my Head should share the referral with me before it is sent off.

    The school is fully aware that I am seeing my GP, on medication and receiving counselling weekly. I don’t necessarily trust the school as I have seen how other members of staff have been treated - I want an OH report to partly cover my back as the school have made some attempts to support me. It is getting incredibly frustrating that I feel like I am constantly having to chase this, as the Head is fully aware how bad my current mental health is but also that I wish to stay in work as much as possible.

    A better idea of the process of referral would just give me an insight into whether things have changed since my friend was a head teacher. Is it a case of my head emailing a form? How long between requesting to see OH and making an actual referral is normal?

    I also believe that if I self-refer then OH don’t have to necessarily send a report to the school? I really want my mental health and how it affects my work/vice versa to be put in writing to the school.

    If it continues to take a long time I may request that my GP write a similar letter for the immediate future, is this something they might do?
     
  5. Pavonine

    Pavonine New commenter

    I’ve had a look and I can’t find any policies for our school regarding OH!
     
  6. TheOtherHalf1

    TheOtherHalf1 New commenter

    Pavonine, having worked at a LEA secondary and helping staff with these difficulties the route to the OH was quite easy and several friends/colleagues followed the Authorities self-referral to OH. It can also be done through GP's if I recall - actually the GP's provided the contact details.
    Take charge of this with a call to your union and arrange a self-referral yourself. A bit of a message from your school if it takes them this long to arrange support for you.

    Hope you get the support you need.
     
    Pavonine likes this.
  7. longitude

    longitude New commenter

    Information about OH referrals is likely to be found in the school's staff sickness policy.
    The school probably has to send you a consent form to sign and return so, until that has happened, a referral hasn't been made. It will probably take a week or so for the appointment and then another week or so for the report to be written. Talk to your union to discuss any recommendations contained in the report regarding how the school can support you at work.
     
    grumpydogwoman and Pavonine like this.
  8. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    If you request something from your head, over the phone while off sick, then it is entirely reasonable that they will want to discuss it with you before taking action.

    It is entirely reasonable that it could take a head a week or so to be able to have an appointment with a member of staff. (They apparently don't actually spend all day every day drinking tea in their office and waiting for people like me to bang on their door and make demands of them!)

    It is entirely reasonable that an AH would not be working on a Friday evening or over the weekend to sort this out with the head. They will almost certainly have a conversation on Monday, which is the earliest you can expect.

    I know it's frustrating, but a fortnight from first mentioning the possibility to actually being referred is not all that long. Your school know you are already having counselling and are under the care of your GP, so this is not an emergency referral. Even once the referral has been made, it could well be several weeks until you get an appointment, OH is overstretched in a great many parts of the country.

    Keep talking this all through with your counsellor and try hard not to read things into the situation which aren't there. (I'm an expert at that, so if you want advice on how to take offence over nothing and read innocent situations as deliberate attempts to bully, then I'm your girl!) However, it isn't to be recommended.

    And keep going, it's nearly the holidays.
     
    mothorchid and Pavonine like this.
  9. Pavonine

    Pavonine New commenter

    @caterpillartobutterfly very good points, thank you.

    What frustrated me in the first week was that he had specifically said we will meet before the weekend, I waited for him on Friday evening and eventually gave up and went home. I understand that headteachers are insanely busy, and try to take that into account, but I would have preferred him to say that he is busy all week and we will catch up next week rather than just avoiding me (I have had confirmation from office staff that he was indeed actively avoiding me).

    It took a further email on Tuesday, referring to the fact that we had not met as suggested by him last week for him to arrange to meet on Wednesday morning. During that meeting I burst into tears talking about my mental health.

    This Friday, Head was not due in until lunchtime and I knew he would be hard to get hold of so at around 8am I asked the AH to speak to him regarding OH. At 8:30, I had to go into their shared office because there is absolutely nowhere private to go in the school and was witnessed having a breakdown by the AH. Headteacher turned up at school at lunchtime and I’m unaware whether the AH spoke to him or not. I emailed Head after work on Friday to request to be kept up to date with the referral and received the reply “will do”.

    It’s not frustrating that it’s taking a long time, just that they don’t particularly seem to care about staff wellbeing! If the referral had been made and I was waiting I wouldn’t have a problem, but the fact that I am clearly not coping well and they still haven’t got round to it is a little frustrating.

    I am currently only at work because I know (from how I am at the weekends) that if I am signed off then I will probably spiral downwards - I need the routine and a reason to get out of bed. However, as much as I am trying, it’s getting to the stage where I can’t cope at work and will probably be signed off very soon if they don’t show any concern about the situation.

    I completely understand that they have a school to run, it just doesn’t make sense to me that they would rather I end up off sick than email a referral. I am currently performing well in my job, but my mental health is not good and I have made it clear to both AH and head. My general reason for posting the thread was to find out whether they could have already made the referral and I just don’t know about it, which is clearly not the case.

    Thanks for the advice everyone, it’s much appreciated and I will take it on board and get things moving myself if nothing happens tomorrow.
     
  10. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    "I desperately need some urgent action on this. Please can we sort something today. I'm more than happy to arrange the contact myself. Just give me the number and email address. Thank you so much."
     

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