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Suffolk worker beset by mental health problems says scheme helped him turn corner

PUBLISHED: 10:26 07 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:11 07 October 2020

An Access to Work Mental Health Support Service promotional image advertising the scheme to the wider public  Picture: MAXIMUS UK

An Access to Work Mental Health Support Service promotional image advertising the scheme to the wider public Picture: MAXIMUS UK

Maximus UK

An employee who struggled with mental health issues says he has overcome the workplace challenges he faced – thanks to a government support scheme.

Aaron Dakin of Lowestoft got support from the Access to Work Mental Health Support scheme – delivered by Remploy – after finding it hard to cope at work.

Those behind the project now want to highlight its benefits to the wider workforce and to employers in order to encourage more people to use the service.

October 10 is World Mental Health Awareness day, and Mr Dakin believes that the guidance and help he has received through the scheme has ensured he can continue to do his job effectively.

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Mr Dakin has experienced anxiety throughout most of his life – along with autistic behaviours and severe depression – but received support which enabled him to remain in work, and he is now able to manage his behavioural challenges.

Now aged 39, he has worked since leaving university in 2003, but has experienced anxiety throughout most of his life, and over time developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, together with autistic behaviours and severe depression.

He was worried about losing his job and having to go on benefit because his prolonged and regular sickness absences made sustaining work problematic, explained Maximus, which operates the programme.

His previous employer had provided counselling and therapy which supplied him with some useful strategies but he never felt fully confident in the workplace.

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His anxieties created barriers when he interacted with work colleagues and engaged in group tasks. His behavioural issues also meant that he struggled to explain his abilities, and he found difficulty in adapting to changing work environments.

He was referred to the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service – which is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions – and introduced to key worker Wendie Evison. She earnt his trust and visited his workplace. With her support, he was able to explain to his line manager the problems he was facing and to discuss what support he needed.

The coping tools he developed have helped him in his current role at Essex and Suffolk Water.

They include a wellness action plan, stress management techniques and useful approaches to help him interact successfully with other workers.

Taking part in the programme have significantly improved the understanding and communication he has with his manager and colleagues.

“By being able to explain aspects of my behaviours to colleagues, my relationships with them have improved,” he said.

“They recognise I sometimes need quiet time and space, and I’m able to reciprocate by recognising that not everyone is like me.

“With Remploy’s help and support, I now feel equipped to deal with the challenges my job presents. Although I still have difficult times, I can now navigate my way through them, and don’t feel at risk from long periods of absence.

“What appeared to be permanent barriers have now become challenges I can overcome. So many things have now become possible that I never dreamed would be.”


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