1 June 2021 posted by Recovery Partners

Imagine suffering a psychological injury at your workplace.

Imagine the psychological injury is so severe, you are unable to continue down that career path at all.

Imagine you had worked in that industry for 15 years and had formed many friendships.

Now imagine overnight you had to leave the comfort of your career, colleagues, and income due to acute distress.

This is what happened to Ben*.

Background

Ben had been working in the mining industry for 15 years. Over this time, he had worked his way up to a senior role as Longwall Face Operator and was well respected by his colleagues. Many of his colleagues had become close friends.

In August 2020, an explosion occurred underground at Ben’s mine.

Five of his friends suffered horrific burns to 90% of their bodies.

Ben witnessed the accident. He helped remove his friends from danger and performed first aid.

Take a moment to comprehend that.

Ben was physically unharmed but took a week off work to recover. However, upon returning to the mine, he was triggered by the environment and suffered a severe panic attack.

Due to the psychological trauma of the accident, it became very clear that after 15 years, Ben would not be returning to work in the mining industry.

How Recovery Partners helped

Venessa (Employment Services Consultant) and Georgia (Rehabilitation Consultant) had a clear objective in mind: Build Ben’s capacity to work in a place where he felt psychologically safe and would not be triggered.

Prior to the accident, Ben had begun studying a Diploma of Nursing. As luck (or hard work) would have it, Venessa and Georgia had established a great rapport with an aged care facility within 5 minutes walking distance from Ben’s house. Due to the close relationship Recovery Partners had built with the facility, Venessa was able to secure a host placement for Ben to do leisure and lifestyle work whilst completing his diploma.

But it was not all smooth sailing. Shortly into his placement, he experienced workplace bullying from a colleague. The first person he reached out to?

Venessa.

Ben trusted Venessa to confide in her about what had happened and depended on her to take steps to improve his placement. Venessa and Georgia informed the host and together they all worked on a resolution. Recovery Partners understand work is more enjoyable and meaningful when you have great relationships with those around you, from client to customer.

During his placement, Venessa guided Ben through the Job Seeking Services Modules and assisted him to prepare a resume and most importantly, improve his interview skills.

“Before the interview coaching, Ben would introduce himself then immediately begin to angrily speak about the mining accident. We coached Ben about how to speak at interviews. We worked out a script about what was appropriate to say about his injury and we practiced many, many times,” Venessa explained.

Many people volunteered at the aged care facility but there were very few actual paid jobs available. Venessa and Georgia tried to negotiate with the aged care facility for Ben to move into a paid carer role once he completed his study.

The facility agreed on the provision Ben was interviewed for the job, just like anyone else.

Venessa recalls being close to tears as she learned how well Ben interviewed for the role. Thanks to the coaching, Ben learned to take his anger to speak in a very genuine and vulnerable manner.

“You don’t always get businesses who understand our mission. We have a great working relationship with this aged care facility, and they are great hosts. We got everyone’s buy in and that’s what we were aiming for,” said Venessa.

Venessa and Georgia understood the trauma Ben had experienced and were motivated to remove absolutely any barriers to re-entering the workforce, including commuting time.

The proximity of the aged care facility to Ben’s house and the familiar location aided Ben in feeling psychologically safe at his hew workplace.

“It is a credit to himself that he was able to identify his interests and pursue that, and we were able to support him along the way,” Georgia said.

Monique (Senior Rehabilitation Consultant) had only just begun her time at Recovery Partners when she was allocated Ben’s file. Quickly understanding the psychological nature of the injury and motivated to ensure Ben was in a happy and healthy workplace, Monique facilitated the closure of the file.

Conclusion and key achievements

Ben witnessed a horrible accident involving his close friends and suffered psychologically.

He was able to seek support, complete a diploma, change careers and move into meaningful, paid work. All in the space of 6 months. That is no small feat and no change is without its challenges.

Whilst Ben was self-motivated, it was the frequent engagement from the team at Recovery Partners that really kept him going.

Venessa, Georgia and Monique were able to achieve:

  • A new career path
  • A meaningful host
  • Paid work – with the added bonus of being just 5 minutes’ walk from Ben’s house!

An admirable career pivot achieved by admirable teamwork.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing a psychological injury, please seek professional help.

 You can also find practical information in our Mental Health and Wellbeing eBook. 

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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 www.workcover.nsw.au