Wellbeing

How the employee assistance programme can help

Anxiety and stress are common feelings that most people get but don’t always like to admit having. Anxiety can affect us in different ways, and we all have our own coping mechanism.

I personally have had many experiences of anxiety: when I organised my wedding day, during a busy day at work or running a branch in Sheffield when I was an Assistant Manager.

I was aware of the Employee Assistance Programme but was embarrassed because I felt others would think less of me if I used the support. This was my own stigma, a perception which I realised wasn’t the case.

Last year we had our beautiful baby boy, born through emergency caesarean section. As the word ‘emergency’ gives away, it wasn’t the relaxing childbirth I had imagined. The experience affected me more than I thought it would have. Fast forward 10 months, I still had feelings of self-doubt and this was leading me to what I recognised as post-natal depression.

During this time, I came back from maternity leave and was getting to know new people in the office. One colleague in particular told me about their own struggles and how the Employee Assistance Programme had helped them. It made me think about my own situation and gave me the courage to reach out to our HR team for advice.

The HR team was really supportive and gave me all the details I needed. All I had to do was call the number and discuss how I was feeling. Together, we came up with a plan of action.

Within an hour from my first phone call, I had websites to support me and blogs for guidance and a six-week course of counselling. I had been on the waiting list for the NHS but was told it would be around four weeks. To have a session and help that quickly was really beneficial.

I was really nervous before my first counselling session and didn’t know what to expect. Would it be like what I had seen on the films and would I lie on a sofa? Not at all.

My counsellor was friendly and welcoming. The sessions were in an informal set up in the front room of her house. We talked about everything: my relationship with my son, how my days progressed and anything that I was worrying about. There was no judgement about what I could say in the sessions.

The whole process helped me process my relationships and my own anxiety and stress. I come out of the sessions feeling great and positive about situations.

I would recommend the Employee Assistance Programme to everyone, even if it’s just for advice. We live in a world where filters and films make us idolise the unrealistic, but in reality, we need to be more honest with each other and not be afraid to seek guidance.

My counsellor was friendly and welcoming. The sessions were in an informal set up in the front room of her house. We talked about everything: my relationship with my son, how my days progressed and anything that I was worrying about.

by Bryony Lomax

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