9 December 2020 posted by Recovery Partners

‘The transformation has been huge.’ How RP Consultant Laura helped Hilary overcome severe anxiety to thrive at work

When *Hilary was first assigned to work with Laura Flynn, Recovery Partners Rehabilitation Consultant, her anxiety was so severe that her GP had said she had no capacity for work at all. ‘Hilary had experienced extensive bullying and stress in her former workplace and felt unsupported by her bosses,’ says Laura. ‘She’d been a 2IC working in research and development, but the work environment had eventually gotten so bad that she could no longer work and had made a workers’ compensation claim. At that point, she was a shell of her former self.’

Laura worked hard to build trust

Laura began working with Hilary to gradually build her capacity for employment again, although COVID-19 presented some challenges, and they were never able to meet in person. ‘When I first began offering Capacity Support Services (CSS) to Hilary, coronavirus was beginning to spread, and we could only speak on the phone. So, I rang her once a fortnight, sometimes more, and we spoke about what was happening for her and how she was feeling. I liaised with her Case Manager and GP and focussed on connecting and developing a good relationship with Hilary. It took a long time for her to trust me, but I just kept being consistent in my contact and how I presented myself to her. This helped her see that I was reliable.’ A background in psychology and crisis counseling helped Laura to appreciate the mental health challenges that Hilary was experiencing and what approach could help her, she says. ‘As well as anxiety, Hilary was experiencing depressive symptoms and sleep disruption. It was important that I use active listening skills, so she knew I understood and had empathy for her. I advocated for her to other stakeholders and also worked with her to identify what coping skills she had in her arsenal and what had worked for her in tough times previously. I also made sure I was upfront about my role and the process we were going through, so she always understood what was going on. She seemed to appreciate that.’

Practical help for studying and job-seeking

During the CSS delivery, Laura helped write two versions of a new and updated resume for Hilary to target the two varieties of roles she was interested in. Hilary identified a training course that she believed would improve her chances of securing employment, and Laura did the background work to facilitate her enrolling and commencing study. Then, she began helping Hilary incorporate her new studies into her life. ‘We talked about things like the Pomodoro method for concentrating in allotted periods of time and how to create a routine for studying that capitalised on her most productive times of day,’ Laura says. Over time, Hilary began to feel more positive about her future and Laura moved from providing Capacity Support Services into the next stage of Job Seeking assistance. Hilary applied for a role in her industry during COVID with one of her new and improved resumes and was asked to come in for an interview. ‘At that stage, Hilary’s GP had only upgraded her capacity to one day per week of work,’ Laura says,

‘But Hilary got such a good vibe from her potential employers during the interview that when they asked her to come in for three days per week, she agreed.’ It was lovely to be the first person Hilary rang after her successful interview, Laura says, and she was pleased to be able to share in her joy. ‘Hilary was very anxious about returning to work but optimistic about the different environment,’ Laura says. ‘Her GP supported the upgrade to her capacity and she’s now been working in the role for a few weeks. She’s absolutely loving it. She’s got a sense of purpose again and she’s been given the opportunities to trial new things and experience success with them, which she never had at her former workplace. She’s so engaged that she’s even conducting her own research on the side to support her work.’ In fact, the difference in workplaces has had such a drastic impact that Hilary’s anxiety is now virtually non-existent, Laura says. ‘It’s amazing. The transformation has been huge.’

Feedback from Hilary

For her part, Hilary credits Laura with a large part in her success, and she wrote her an email to tell her so. With her permission, we’re sharing it here:  “Laura Flynn has been working with me in regard to a work cover case for workplace bullying and mental health issues.  I could not have had a better person assigned to help rehabilitate me back into the workforce. Laura is incredibly considerate, kind, intelligent and communicates excellently. I have never had any issues with understanding what was required of me, as throughout the entire process, Laura has explained everything in a clear and gentle manner. As someone who suffers from strong anxiety, I have felt very at ease during the process due to Laura’s consistent support and thorough understanding of mental health. Not only has she been wonderfully supportive and critical to my return to the workplace, she is also a pleasure to talk to. Her manner is always friendly, polite and she is always flexible in regard to scheduling appointments.   I could not recommend Laura more highly to others who may find themselves in the situation that I have been in. I am now in a much better place, with a new, wonderful job, and nothing pleased me more than bearing that good news to Laura and hearing how happy it made her.   I truly wish her all the very best for the future and all the wonderful opportunities it holds for her.” Congratulations to Laura on helping to facilitate such a wonderful outcome!


Sound good? If you’d like the assistance of Laura or another Recovery Partners Consultant to help your clients with mental health challenges build their capacity for work again, get in touch.

Our services are available nationwide. For more information about our services contact us.

Our consultants love to have a chat, so go ahead and give us a call on 1300 OHS RTW (647 789) or email enquiries@rrp.com.au *Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals and organisations involved

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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/