‘I can’t do anything at work’ – I’ll admit I’m under pressure after a stressful year

No more: My colleagues are ‘mentally drained’, particularly at this time of year. I’d love to go online to check in with them; it’s unprofessional and unethical for boss to contact workers out of hours

I would like to thank all the workers we had in the care system this year. We worked very hard to make sure that life had a decent cuppa, snack and bedtime in 2017. However, I am not impressed with how our colleagues are being treated at the end of the year.

I work as a mental health worker in an adult inpatient hospital, where I receive an hourly wage, so my colleagues are earning an average of about £23,000. A large part of our job is caring for vulnerable people, treating them with dignity and respect, and giving them safe and secure environments, often for long periods.

One aspect of this job that is a very big problem in my career is to make sure that employees can interact with me. When staff are dealing with serious mental health issues, such as anxiety, it can be so stressful for them that they simply cannot keep up with correspondence at work or have any contact with me out of hours. It’s also a huge burden to my clients.

From interviewing my colleagues this Christmas, I can see why they’re so stressed. They’re constantly on the brink of breaking down and needing emotional support. They can’t go online to check on work emails or do emails and keep on going. It’s completely unacceptable for bosses to contact workers out of hours. It’s unprofessional and unethical.

One of my colleagues was trying to break off a relationship over the Christmas period, but she was really worried as she was busy with a very challenging patient, who was at the point of ending it. She was worried about ending the relationship, but she was worried about the effect it would have on the patient as well. She was not in a good place when she left, and therefore had trouble getting anything done at work.

A lot of my colleagues didn’t get anything done in 2017, and I think it was a pressure from all round me to attend conferences and events. Of course, the talk of e-working has helped, but when things are going badly, I don’t have the time to log into my virtual workplace.

We got a lot of good comments from a lot of people who read our articles. But at the end of the day, the main reason for all this stress is when we’re in the office; I don’t know how they are experiencing this year.

One colleague was writing an essay for a study they were doing at the start of December, and had planned a really busy Christmas. But they went up to their lockers before leaving at their shifts and had money taken from them; they lost a lot of their Christmas money. That was so scary for them, so they lost their Christmas spirit.

I’m sick of this management team having so much control over the working environment. I think it’s very unfair how they dictate what staff can do and what we can’t. Some of the older staff are so frustrated that they could possibly consider their careers at the hospital to be over. But they have the burden of caring for these people who are in crisis, so that stress can be such a burden.

I’d like to say that I want to switch off but for me, for personal well-being, this is not a good option. Sometimes I just need to carry on and work through my emotions so that I can be available for clients and make sure my colleagues feel as well supported as possible. I have a bad feeling the holidays haven’t gone as smoothly as they should for everyone, and it was because of this.

This isn’t a fair and fair workplace. It’s not for me to say who the boss should be, and this is a conversation between my management team and my colleagues. It’s not my place to feel bad or badgered into this job, and I won’t hide from it. My colleagues wouldn’t either, so it’s up to them to try and make this a better working environment for everyone.

Voices this week: Stop reading public reviews of your colleagues online. Which public companies should be trusted with privacy, and which not? – P

Have you recently been treated for mental health issues at work? Email your experiences to [email protected]

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