https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2016/07/18/why-i-declare-and-why-im-getting-a-passport/

Why I 'declare', and why I’m getting a 'passport'

Head shot of Rupert McNeil
Rupert McNeil, Civil Service Chief People Officer

Inclusivity is closely linked to identity and, specifically, the ability for people to ‘be themselves’.

I believe that one of the most profound social changes of recent decades has been a growing sense among many of us that we can be ourselves: at school, with old friends and with new friends. And it means feeling that you can be yourself – un-judged and included – at work. It is a sign of a civilised, effective workplace that it is inclusive, and that it celebrates individuals in all their diversity.

For me, an inclusive environment is one where everyone feels that it is safe and important to be able to say who they are and what might make them different. This can be measured by how many people ‘declare’ (‘tick the relevant box’) what their gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation is, or whether or not they have a disability.

I now realise that, since I was a teenager, I suffered from a particular mental condition (I hesitated to call it an ‘illness’): a tendency to experience deep anxiety. It took several decades before, in 2014, it finally caught up with me in the workplace. Although I had been taking fluoxetine (‘Prozac’) daily since my mid-20s, a demanding time at work and bad habits (lack of sleep, lack of exercise, too much caffeine), meant my anxiety manifested itself in physical (pins and needles, chest pains) and mental symptoms. I took several months off work – I will always be grateful for a supportive employer and good colleagues – and I went off my Blackberry and phone.

I was lucky to be able to reshape my lifestyle (make new and better habits) and got a better understanding of my condition and myself: thanks to great professional support. I went back to work and resumed my role.

Shortly after I came back to work, I had to fill in my employer’s equivalent of the People Survey. Some years before, I had started, initially tentatively, to tick the disability box. But now I did it with a new understanding. Declaring myself with this disability, as someone who had a mental health condition, I was saying something about who I am. I was being myself. And now I’ve done that I find myself doing it more often and more easily. I don’t have any real difficulty talking about it.

And last month I had another important experience. I joined a group of colleagues at the Welsh Government in Cardiff who meet and support each other. All have mental health conditions, or close family members who do. We were meeting on the first day of the Welsh Government’s Diversity Week, and for about an hour we talked about our experiences and issues. We talked about the importance of supportive line managers and colleagues. It made me very proud, again, to be a civil servant and it made me feel at home at work.

We also talked about the ‘passport’ for allowing a seamless transfer when colleagues with a disability get a new line manager or move between departments. I am fortunate in that I don’t need any workplace adjustments for my condition: but I know this is just luck.

So, why am I completing my passport for my condition? I’m doing it for the same reason I ‘tick the box’ and declare myself as having a disability. It is a part of who I am. It doesn’t define me. But it is part of me. As Chief People Officer of the Civil Service, I want us to work in inclusive workplaces where everyone declares what makes them different: whatever box they tick.

Follow Rupert McNeil on Twitter: @CivilServiceCPO

92 comments

  1. Helen Lederer

    A wonderful blog showing the positives in being able to be yourself and being included. Thank you for leading the charge from the front.

    Link to this comment
    • Alison Edwards

      I am currently having CBT for anxiety after years of "coping". I've only been 2 years in the civil service and have found all my line managers very supportive especially the current ones in my new department who have taken an active role in getting me support through OH and giving me time off for my treatment.

      Link to this comment
  2. Teresa Wilkins

    Bravo Rupert. We need more high profile people to talk about disability & especially mental health.
    Well done.

    Link to this comment
  3. Lesley

    As someone with a disability that will soon to be joining the Civil Service, I am looking forward to completing my Passport for many of the same reasons as you. Thanks for sharing your experience. It is always good to have positive role models at all levels of the organisation.

    Link to this comment
  4. AJ

    This is insipiring! Thanks for sharing Rupert.

    Link to this comment
  5. Matt Meynell, CS Workplace Adjustment Team

    Thanks Rupert for this excellent blog and to all for comments so far. The Workplace Adjustment passport can be a really effective tool for helping staff explore their needs with their line manager.

    You will be able to find more detail on your own departmental intranets and we have also posted the passport onto the Civil Service Learning site along with a range of other useful materials:

    https://civilservicelearning.civilservice.gov.uk/learning-resources/workplace-adjustment-passport

    https://civilservicelearning.civilservice.gov.uk/learning-opportunities/disability-awareness-e-learning

    If you want any further support, please contact the CS Workplace Adjustment Team on 0114 2948902 or refer to your own departmental guidance.

    Link to this comment
  6. Lisa baldock

    Wow I actually was the lady who helped to design and do the presentation on the passport, however I m gutted I could not make it in person so was filmed. I'm feeling very privileged that the message has come across and you are going to get one. It's not easy with barriers on a daily basis with my conditions but it certainly is a valuable tool.

    Link to this comment
  7. Mary Smeeth

    Thank you Rupert for this brave and inspiring piece. As someone who has recently returned to work after a depressive illness I recognised a great deal of what you describe. I am pleased to say that our Director here shared your blog as a way of encouraging us to talk more about inclusion and acceptance and this gave me the chance to write back to all colleagues. It felt frightening to do it but I know that if I can't be authentic at work then a large part of what I have to offer will be wasted. I have previously spoken about the possibility of a passport but didn't realise it had become a reality. If you have more details of how this might work, I would be grateful for details. Thanks again for speaking out and hope many more will follow your lead as I have.

    Link to this comment
  8. Harvey Neve

    caught red handed giving out a bit of Inspirational Leadership! Well done Rupert!

    Link to this comment
  9. Gavin Thomas

    Thank you Rupert for your honesty and I hope that you will encourage others to be so open and where needed, seek for reasonable adjustments to enable them to perform their duties. Gavin Thomas on Behalf of the FCO Wellbeing Network.

    Link to this comment
  10. Susie Scarlott

    Brilliant blog and very inspiring to read.

    Link to this comment
  11. Fiona

    A great piece which I'm sure will inspire and reassure a lot of employees.

    Link to this comment
  12. Julia Douch

    I wonder whether 'declaration' rates would be more reflective of the workforce if the declaration was in relation to an 'impairment' rather than 'disability'. An individual who has an impairment I(an illness , injury or congenital condition which causes a long term effect on physical appearance or limits function), for which their organisation has made a 'reasonable adjustment' enabling them to undertake their role in work on a par with others, may not regard them selves as disabled (having an impairment which limits their ability to take part in work on an equal level) and may well not decide to declare a disability. Time to look at our use of language and the inferences we sometimes draw from low declaration rates? Maybe we need a change of language in the Civil Service People Survey and include questions about impairment and support through reasonable adjustments in addition to disability.

    Link to this comment
    • Hazel Edwards

      Great comment Julia-very very pertinent and insightful.

      Link to this comment
  13. G H

  14. Doug Watkins, HR Director

    A really good blog Rupert. I enjoyed reading it and learning more about you. It is great to have shared this so openly as it helps us create the inclusive environment we aspire to - it is so important that we turn our ambitions and words into actions and real life examples.

    Link to this comment
  15. Kevin Donnelly

    It's a welcome sign that senior staff, like Rupert, feel able to and are comfortable in "declaring" their "disability". We understand that in doing so, it demonstrates to all, that people with physical or mental health conditions can operate effectively at every level within the service.

    Of course, this shouldn't come as a surprise. People with disability have forever been working and succeeding in raising families, educating the nation's children, healing the sick, serving as monarch, Prime Minister ... the list goes on.

    It demonstrates that what limits the contribution and success of any individual, is the social/organisational culture in which they have to function.

    The Workplace Passports are intended to recognise and overcome those barriers - procedural and/or cultural. Those barriers, as I see it, are symptoms - I don't think we should indulge ourselves in the false belief that a Passport is anything but a treatment of symptoms - it is not intended to be a remedy.

    My own experience of the Passport is that it does not operate as seamlessly from one port to another as Rupert imagines.

    Many managers, with their own target priorities, personal prejudices, ignorance and who are unfamiliar with or even hostile towards individuals requiring additional support, often seek to dilute the adjustments provided or invoke continual Occupational Health reviews (just to double check?).

    They regard passported individuals as "naturally" less capable, less talented, less ambitious, less productive and automatically bound to perform at the lowest levels (PMR).

    It is no coincidence that "disabled" staff remain over-represented in the lowest 10% of performance ratings or that this is a reflection of the culture that is content to see our disabled colleagues disposed to inhabit that bottom zone - even with "passport" adjustments.

    We should be wary that the issuing of Passports, like the attachment of any label, could serve to reinforce rather than eradicate prejudice.

    This surely means there has to be a cultural shift if "passports" are to be successful.
    In practice this means a total and absolute and demonstrable commitment, from the top but through all managerial levels, to the practice of zero tolerance towards prejudice/discrimination.

    Managers who are pushing disabled staff into the lowest performer rankings must be wholly accountable and where they are unable to justify, should be removed from people management roles. This means, taking complaints about discrimination seriously and acting unequivocally to remove malpractice - certainly not as is often seen rewarding it by promoting those holding anti-diversity attitudes.

    It's often said (and is true) that managers replicate the next generation in their own image - if that maintains prejudice against diversity and inclusion, the problem will never be solved.

    I would urge Rupert to take a more radical and fundamental approach in tackling cultural prejudice within our organisation and to recognise that the good intention of Passports may serve only to sticky-plaster-over an infected wound, which in fact requires urgent surgery.

    Link to this comment
    • Ryan Chaplin

      I couldn't agree more with what you say here Kevin.

      The passports are a really good idea that will help make a potentially difficult situation much easier. But I think that we must ask ourselves why the passports are necessary? Yes, there may be some logistical difficulties with reasonable adjustments; and if the passport system helps remove these then that is great.

      But what when the problems aren't logistical? It is (sadly) true that there are instances in which line managers make the process more difficult for those that require the adjustments. In these instances, I question the usefulness of the passports. True, they will make it easier for the adjustments to be put in place; but if that is the point then aren't we really just treating the symptoms instead of the illness? Shouldn't we be looking to stop the prejudice in the first place, rather than just covering it up by taking away the chance for it to show?

      Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we should do away with the passports, but I think that more work is needed on preventing those that hold such prejudices from becoming managers. I think it is clear to everybody here that requiring a reasonable adjustment, or having a mental condition does not make you less able to do your job. I would go so far as to say that anybody who feels that having a disability of any sort necessarily makes you a weaker member of the team, is unfit to be a manager.

      We should be looking to stamp out prejudice. One point made earlier on by Kevin Donelly in particular, resonates here. Kevin suggested that:

      "Managers who are pushing disabled staff into the lowest performer rankings must be wholly accountable and where they are unable to justify, should be removed from people management roles.".

      There is an argument that this would just serve to further separate those with disabilities from those without. Having said that, a manager who deliberately marked a member of staff as poor performing on the grounds of race or religion or sex would not only be removed from a managerial role, but would probably face disciplinary proceedings.

      Discrimination is discrimination and discrimination is wrong. This is MUST be regardless of the grounds upon which one discriminates. The minute that we say one form of discrimination is "more wrong" than another, then it is necessarily true that a certain form of discrimination is "more right" than another and this is clearly absurd.

      Link to this comment
      • Rosie Anderson

        Thank you for comments Kevin,
        fraid a bit late for me as I have MS. I have been awarded box 3s in the last 3 of my reports and edged out of the door on a choice of being dismissed on grounds of loss of capability or function or opt for early ill-health retirement. its my last day today and I wish you well!

        Link to this comment
  16. Hazel Edwards

    I'm so thrilled to see such a touching and incisive act of leadership. Well done, Rupert. Thank you.
    I found myself at an Equalities meeting a few weeks ago to discuss something quite different and suddenly I was listening to a discussion about a new mental health strategy. I suddenly came clean about my own previous experience of a workplace based anxiety disorder and whilst I wasn't exactly plastered to the ceiling or levitating, it was quite a moment! No idea where it came from but I'm glad I'm out. I'll remember your example in the future and go off in search of a passport.
    The handover to a new line manager is the single most threatening aspect of return to work that I've experienced so far. If it goes wrong, so does the healing process and rehabilitation.

    Link to this comment
  17. Jim

    I always pick "Choose not to declare". Primarily because it's none of your business.

    My other reasons:

    If I don't complete it, you get to claim that I couldn't be bothered - and that's not true.

    if I did complete it, it will be used in the crazed "equality of outcome" culture we've birthed in this country. You know, the mutated offspring of "Equal opportunity" and "It's all social conditioning."

    So any stats showing certain groups of people doing well must mean INEQUALITY and a *-ism Finder General appointed to root out the cause, followed by inclusion/diversity re-education for all and condescending lectures about privilege, identity politics and microaggressions.

    Anyway, I'll keep doing my bit by refusing to go along with it until they open the re-education camps for those of us stubbornly refusing to put people into boxes by skin colour, sexuality or one of the many new invented genders.

    I believe the camps are budgeted for 17/18, right?

    Link to this comment
    • Kevin Donnelly

      Jim - I can see that your comment is intended as an assault on "equality" (or maybe just political correctness) but I don't see what you're bringing to the table.

      If you read Rupert's article and the reader comments you will see that it is because people with mental or other health conditions do not want to be pigeon-holed as "natural" under-achievers and in fact want to be in a position where they can contribute meaningfully and feel value as part of the organisation.

      Of course, it was not so long ago that men were criminalised for being gay or were clinically categorised as carrying a mental health disorder. Those times have changed - not by gay men refusing to disclose their sexuality but by openly challenging the cultural/societal orthodoxy.

      It seems almost unthinkable today that gay men would be overlooked for the most senior and responsible positions of business, government, military etc, Yet that was the norm only a few decades ago when they were deemed incapable due their supposed mental instability.

      Absolutely no one should be or is being forced to "declare" private or sensitive information about themselves but the fact remains that equality of opportunity (in the face of misplaced and ingrained prejudice) can only come about when people experiencing disadvantage can declare their conditions without fear or favour in an open environment where prejudice can be challenged and changed.

      Link to this comment
  18. Brian Day

    I have suffered from anxiety and depression since I was a very young boy. I am not ashamed to admit this and that I suffered a mental breakdown in 2007. I have found that by talking openly about my problems I have been able to heal a little. I have campaign long and hard for people to understand the effect mental health issues have and indeed wrote a story which was published on the HMRC intranet detailing my journey and how it has affected my relationships. It is a story I am keen to share with anyone who wants to read it.
    Well done for stepping up to the plate and raising this important issue once again. Having senior civil servants leading the way helps people like me to continue to fight.

    Link to this comment
    • Laura

      Great post Rupert, nice to see higher profile colleagues raising the profile of mental illness.

      I have a 'passport' and have found in the past it has been weeded out of my personnel file (twice) could it be made a non-weedable document?

      I like the idea of the passport as it saves me the task of repeating my life story to each new manager. This can be an upsetting thing to have to do as it brings it all back to the surface, so glad I can limit relaying the story.

      Link to this comment
  19. Paul Wheatley

    It's really brightened my day to read this. It doesn't seem 'brave' for Rupert to write about this as he seems quite comfortable with that facet of himself, and perhaps that's even more inspiring and comforting than someone sharing that against a backdrop of fear. At the risk of making this 'all about me', I've experienced Rupert's problem in the past to an extreme extent, and things have developed into something quite different but even more debilitating for me (especially in the workplace). I can draw a surprising amount of comfort and optimism from knowing that someone in such a senior position, who has presumably had a lot of success in their career, has overcome those challenges and still achieved some of their ambitions.

    Link to this comment
  20. Simon

    As a person with both Physical and Mental health conditions I find myself in a position where I am having difficulties.
    I have a reasonable adjustment passport that mainly covers the physical side
    I now realise the other side is just as important so I can only hope that someone in my line of business reads this article and as I reach out will help me to understand and progress my adjustments.
    So to sum up Thank you, your article will be the start of a new positive journey for me and my management .
    I honestly believe this will make a difference to me staying in the civil service that's how far things have slipped for me.
    I am going to e mail my line management ( I'm sure they will take it as the cry for help I cannot seem to say to them )

    Link to this comment
  21. Chris Lumb

    Excellent article from a leader. We've had them before, M.Tatton and Lin Homer, but they have not filtered down the management chain and those of us with disabilities are still attacked for behaviour that is totally outside of our control or even exasperated by the behaviour of those around them.
    Now if only you could ensure that this reaches lower levels of management.

    Link to this comment
  22. Chris Elliott

    Brilliant article, thanks and well done.

    Link to this comment
  23. Steve

    Excellent article and an example to all. It is a shame reality for a lot of us doesn't reflect your intentions.

    Link to this comment
  24. Andrew McIlwaine

    Rupert - Thanks for sharing this so openly. It's a real inspiration to hear from a senior leader who has had the same problems I have had. Andrew

    Link to this comment
  25. Debbie Alder

    A really inspiring blog Rupert - thank you for your courage. I have shared my own story of when I had a period of time off work with exhaustion and stress in 2004. I have talked about this at Civil Service Live last year and this, and DWP and WIG events. It took me 10 years to talk about it without worrying about the taboo or judgement of others. Fantastic that you have shared your story.

    Link to this comment
  26. Kevin Donnelly

    Simon - I'm sure many people with mental health conditions share your feelings and will be encouraged by your decision to be open with your manager(s).

    Like Rupert I have lived with a mental health condition for many years and like Rupert, have been taking prescribed drugs (SSRIs) to manage and stabilise the symptoms of chronic depression.

    Of course, these medications have their own side effects - fatigue, "foggy-brain" and so on - which means my peak performance does not always fit neatly into the 9 to 5.

    A reasonable adjustment, for me, was to have greater flexibility over my hours of work but this was only after many years of keeping my condition secret and consequently being appraised as an under-performer.

    That continual poor assessment has left scars - over-looked for promotion and development opportunities, constant doubts of self-worth, and the high anxiety that my work was never good enough or my contribution/potential of any real value.

    I don't believe that workplace passports are a cure-all, but it is vital, if our workplace culture is to change, that we can openly discuss mental health in a safe and supportive workplace.

    It is vital that our workplace practices and processes do not contribute to making our conditions less manageable or drive us out of the workforce completely.

    If Rupert's honest article fosters that sense of empowerment and acts as a challenge to discriminatory practices it will be a job well done.

    Link to this comment
    • Simon

      Hi I accept that my performance is in the lower 10 % comparing me with the "able bodied" majority . This has not been a problem,as promotion nice, if you can cope with it but I was happy in my present job .

      I sadly find myself in a position where my best is not quite good enough for my immediate management .
      The constant pressure to over exceed my reduced capability is wearing and of course wont help my mental health ..a vicious circle the more I worry the more I make poor judgements .
      It will get resolved I am confident of that .

      Link to this comment
    • Angie

      Kevin - I was debating whether to comment to this blog. Your comments around constant doubts of self worth, high anxiety that work was never good enough and not adding value are exactly where I am now so thank you for letting me know I'm not the only one.

      Having had a breakdown at the turn of the year due in part to work related stress but in turn as a result of two other lifelong medical conditions affecting concentration & fatigue, I am struggling to find my self worth. I am sabotaging myself and my work as I know my work will be criticised as it isn't good enough no matter how much effort I put in. I no longer have the confidence in my abilities to succeed. Have received my first ever (in 30 years service) Must Improve marking I'm at an all time low.

      I am so tired of feeling negative and am afraid patience is wearing thin with me. I have a Workplace Adjustment Passport and think this may be putting managers off accepting me in suitable roles. I can't sell myself very well on vacancies either.

      Anxiety is constantly to the fore with depression lurking in the background. I can't see my way out at the moment so it is good to see people breaking out and moving on and up.

      Link to this comment
      • Jan

        Angie,
        I find myself in exactly the same situation as you, receiving my first 'Must Improve' after 38 years unblemished service. You have described your feelings very well and I too despair over my treatment. Since I went part-time due to my mental health condition (which is a result of an ongoing physical condition) I have had to continually fight to be fairly judged. I don't think I'll be able to work for much longer with the added stress. I find it very sad that my Department places such high value on helping claimants with disabilities into work at the same time as pushing staff towards the door.

        Link to this comment
  27. Jo A

    I am so happy to see mental health being openly debated...I am encouraging a friend who has experienced similar to join the civil service. will use this as evidence!

    Link to this comment
  28. Dororthy Salmon

    I have a disability that does effect my work, I have had OH referrals and access to work all agree that I should be in a static job with reduced targets and my consideration points should be raised. The higher management want to move me to a new area change my working times which would have a dramatic effect on my health. and have not raised my con points.
    What they do is say things like it doesn't state you cant use a phone. Which I can in certain situation,
    moving works time I explained this would lead to time off then been but on report, manager shrug shoulders and said yes that what would happen.
    I have had no support only dragged down and made to feel worthless. Just thought you should know your caring sharing civil service as not reached here. Bullying and targets are still the order of the day.

    Link to this comment
  29. Paul Gray

    Excellent article, so much so that it has actually made me comment on a post for the first time in 24 years!!! I had very similar symptoms to Rupert and my business area was excellent in the way they assisted me, I couldn't ask for more but the one problem I had was that I received a stage 1 warning letter shortly after my return to work which wasn't particularly helpful in my recovery. I know that this is part of the rules but perhaps a little more judgement could have been applied? I don't know if any of you have seen them but they are extremely frightening especially when you have just come back from mental illness. The moral of my story is that we have come a very long way as a department but in my experience I believe we still have a way to go.

    Link to this comment
  30. Pam Shaughnessy

    I was lucky enough to be at London Civil Service Live and heard Rupert speak about capability and development. I felt inspired by that and, having read this, I am again motivated by his words. Absolutely great - thank you

    Link to this comment
  31. Sheila Sturgeon, WM ARDG, DfE

    An inspiring blog that opens doors for the many, many people who - like you and I - live with a mental health condition to also talk about the issues they face. I too have completed a passport. I have invisible physical conditions too and need adjustments. Thank you.

    Link to this comment
  32. Jennifer Thorp

    A very encouraging and positive blog, thank you. However, I don't know how anyone can bear to be called a "chief people officer". All human beings are people. Staff are people who work for an organisation. Customers are also people, are they not? What was wrong with the word staff? Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Luckily I have only ever seen the phrase "a skeleton people" once, and am still waiting for "people discount", but "people survey" sounds pretty daft too.

    Link to this comment
  33. Karan

    Thanks you for writing this blog. There are so many misconceptions about mental health. It is so nice to hear mental health being so openly discussed. I hope this prompts a lot of conversations.

    Link to this comment
  34. Mike Evans

    You're very lucky. I can't say the same. I had a heart attack a few years ago due following a period of stress and work pressure and although I had two months off for a quadruple heart bypass, once back at work it was as if nothing had happened. No consideration has been shown. The only response has been poor box markings for not 'stepping up to the plate'. But that's Highways England for you.

    Link to this comment
  35. Colin Mackie

    Rupert. Thank you so much for this powerful article, which I can see from the responses is already making a difference. I hope it kick-starts a new understanding and awareness within the Civil Service, but I especially hope that it inspires change in how colleagues who suffer this illness are treated by fellow staff and senior managers. Very well done, and well done also for the many heartfelt responses above.

    Link to this comment
  36. Paul

    Like most I agree that Rupert's blog is a good thing, and I commend him for it, it helps the rest of us who have and do struggle with our internal demons to be a bit more positive. What I would say though, to counter this, is that in my humble opinion once you get out of the metropolitan bubble things out here in the far flung reaches of HMRC's empire are a little different. Managers and staff aren't quite so receptive to the ideas of frankness and non-discrimination with regard to mental health.
    I was unfortunately off for a long spell (this time) with the black dog and that was handled well
    by the manager put in place to deal with me (!) until I returned to work at which point I was placed in the must improve box even though I had not had a mid year review and wasn't under the impression I needed to improve (that much). I have no doubt that this was due to my illness. I realise that this could be mistaken for paranoia on my part (after all I was off with depression) but I appealed and won, which has helped with my mental health, but wasn't great at the time of the appeal.
    Mental Health issues are still the most difficult thing to talk about (not just by managers but with them) because it's awkward to open up to someone who is your boss and people can't physically see it. If you break your leg, it's in plaster, if you have the flu you look and sound terrible. It unfortunately has a stigma attached, if your brain lacks a certain chemical and you spiral into your own world every now and then, there's still that "pull yourself together" and "what have YOU got to be depressed about" attitude. If only it worked like that!
    How do we change perceptions? Not sure, Rupert's blog helps, as long as it's read and agreed with, and that's the rub, managers and staff need to see the problems for what they are because it can happen to any one of us at any time.
    In the end, one day it'll get the recognition that it deserves. Until then, I'll keep taking the pills, coming to work and doing my best.

    Link to this comment
    • Steve Glenn

      Paul,
      There is hope..........new ways of treating depression are coming along. I have had depression most of my life and like you just stuck in there as much as I could. Glad I did. The depression has now more or less gone away. And now it has gone, I look back and thank myself for hanging in there, [In my case I can see how mid life burdens, uncertainty and exhaustion caused it] and thank most of my managers for believing in me.

      A Psychiatrist once told me that depression almost always clears eventually.....................

      Steve.

      Link to this comment
  37. Gary Robinson

    Rupert,

    Thank you for sharing this (very personal) story.

    A great example of leading from the front, bravo!

    Link to this comment
  38. Elaine

    Well I am someone who has still not come out to the people I work with as a someone who experiences clinical depression and psoriatic arthritis. Usually when I have a flare up I take a "duvet day" until the symptoms abate. My worst performance review markings have been during periods when I was suffering most. Apparently when I am good I am "very, very good but when I am bad I am only average". This has obviously had an impact on my career trajectory which has flat lined! I am currently trying (with my GP's support) to reduce my dosage of Sertraline - this would be so much easier to manage at work if I had declared myself. Perhaps it is time for me to come out of the shadows?

    Link to this comment
    • Jez Bretherton

      Elaine - You're brave and strong and others need you to come out and educate others around the effects of mental health.

      Link to this comment
  39. Catherine

    Thank you very much for this article. Unfortunately, I have had negative experiences surrounding disability. I have overheard conversations between colleagues (in the NHS) who have turned someone's application down owing to what they believed was her mental and emotional capacity to do the job. The job may well have proven too much for her but they didn't even consider her skills to do the job before they discarded her out of hand because of her condition. Up until then I had declared my disability but afterwards refused to do so and believe that may have contributed to my success in finally finding a permanent job. I am glad your experience was different and it may inspire me to declare it, albeit tentatively, in the future.

    Link to this comment
  40. Kate Earl

    Fantastic blog Rupert - thank you.

    Link to this comment
  41. Alex Beames

    It's a real shame that this didn't come about prior to us being removed from the Civil Service and becoming a Government Owned Company.

    I am disabled and since my diagnosis have declared it. This led to me being put into a role that I was not skill or personality suited for and a cut in pay due to loss of allowances. It has led to numerous trips to Occupational Health as Managers simply did not have a clue what my condition was, or how to deal with it in an appropriate manner. (Granted, it is an unusual condition but how many times do they need to be told that?)

    It has led to me making grievances when senior managers decide its a great idea to publish sickness data to shame people into attending work when unwell. - Persons identified by name on that by the way, yes you read that correctly.

    After over 9 years with initially an Agency and now a Company, I have yet to see any improvement in the way that people are dealt with once they tick 'that' box.

    I would urge you Rupert to investigate not only the procedures that departments/agencies/companies have in place but also the on the ground practices. I suspect you will find them very different.

    Link to this comment
  42. Lisa

    How very inspiring Rupert. As someone who is undergoing a great deal of pressure in my personal life, I worried about how it would look on my sick record to be signed off with stress. I worried whether I would be treated differently from colleagues, but since I have returned, I have found them all to be very sensitive and supportive.

    It certainly helps to know that there are Civil Service Leaders who are leading by example and changing the perception of disability in the Civil Service. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Link to this comment
  43. Chris

    The fact that you made it to the top before declaring your illness says it all. People would not be confident to declare anything like that in my workplace - it would almost certainly "shoebox" the rest of their careers.

    Link to this comment
    • Ed

      I agree with your comment. It has had an effect on my career and I struggle to get promotion or for a job interview. For the first time in my career of near 30 years I received a 'must improve' box marking. This has caused my latest bout of depression and other factors as well.

      Link to this comment
  44. Mark Welford-Proctor

    I feel that mental health issues in particular are still generally underplayed or even ignored all together, yet mental health conditions are more common than anyone thinks. It is heartening to see someone of such seniority coming out and declaring his own condition and whilst not imposing on colleague's privacy, we should all be encouraging to our colleagues who have similar conditions but for understandable reasons, who do not have the confidence to be so open about them.

    I think a good start is for all Government Department's to highlight their support for staff with mental health conditions with a real 'gusto' and set about putting in place programmes to make the Civil Service a nationally leading employer for people with all kinds of disabilities. If an organisation of the size and importance as the Civil Service can sweep away the stigma that is still attached to mental health issues and disabilities, then we will have already travelled a long way down the road to a society where such conditions are openly accepted as part of life's rich tapestry and nothing to fear or loathe, much less a reason for a person's life chances to be reduced.

    Link to this comment
  45. Lorraine

    Mental health is still a very sensitive matter in the work place and the worry is how will you be treated after disclosure of the impact on you and or the work. So it was refreshing and comforting to read Rupert McNeil's positive experience. Hopefully his experience will encourage others who need to, to share who they are and the support they need.

    Link to this comment
  46. Karen P

    Well done for speaking out but that in itself is an issue. In this day and age why have we not got past the fact human beings are all different and unique. I have lived with depression for over 30 years, I am dyslexic and have arthritis in all my joints, none of which stops me being a fully productive member of society.
    I agree with the comments about removing managers who still hold outdated and limiting prejudices but how many of them actually feel this way or are just behaving as they think the culture dictates.
    I would be interested to know how many other people "hide" themselves when filling in these forms?

    Link to this comment
  47. Dani Evans

    Thanks Rupert for such an open and honest bog, I think its fantastic that senior members of staff are sharing such experiences as its a real encouragement to others that they can do the same.

    Link to this comment
  48. Alison

    I too have suffered from stress and depression caused at work, which leaves it's own legacy. You are never quite the same afterwards. I have found many times over the years that sharing my experience has helped colleagues who did not understand what was happening to them. I always advise them to seek professional help, speak to their manager and share my own coping mechanisms.

    Everyone is unique and that makes us all amazing! There is no such thing as 'normal'

    Link to this comment
  49. Phil

    We are currently going through a large re-organisation within the Department of Health under the badge of DH2020. This will see a one third reduction in staff. As part of the process all staff (apart from those that chose the voluntary exit route) have to complete competency assessment forms and have to score a minimum of 24 out of 35 to show they meet the minimum capability level. Only if they achieve this can they then move to the next stage of applying for a post. (note there is no matching of current role to the post - so probably best summed up as could be a free for all, unless your classed as a specialist).

    At one of the recent DG led DH2020 events, where they were giving an update, I asked if there was any alignment with the Guaranteed Interview Scheme approach, and if so how this came into this scoring process and how could they be certain that those with a disability would be treated fairly. There then began much looking at feet, fingernails, shuffling of papers, rambling explanations, etc before the admission that they would need to go away and examine their terms of reference, procedures, etc.

    I'm afraid this isn't good enough. It is hard enough for everyone to go through a downsizing of this size and being told you need to jump through new hoops to meet a new gold standard as an employee, oh and by the way your recent performance marks no matter how good count for nothing, without the worry that you will not be disadvantaged due to disability or diversity.

    This should all have been considered prior to launching into this reduction process.

    Link to this comment
  50. Simon

    Is there an accessible version of the Passport? All I can see is some sort of MS Word document… It would be strange, but not all that surprising, sadly, if some effort hasn't been put into making sure this process works for all staff.

    Simon

    Link to this comment
  51. Rebecca

    I personally am a dyslexic with an anxiety disorder. I have been held back not because of my ability in the day job (although it takes me way longer than others to get used to a new place and set of people) but because of my ability to perform in interviews - I've often wished I could have a different format of interview - a round table chat rather than a cross the table interview (and it would work for all interviewees). How do I get this suggestion considered by civil service HR?

    Link to this comment
  52. Steve

    Rupert,
    This is a very inspiring blog that highlights that having a disability need not be a barrier to success! As someone who has suffered from anxiety, depression and hearing voices as well as an underactive thyroid I can really understand where you are coming from.

    I will recommend to anyone with a disability (or any other under-represented group) who wants to develop their career in the civil service to apply for the Positive Action Pathway scheme next time it is advertised at their grade. I completed the scheme as an EO and it really helped me develop, gain self-confidence and successfully get a promotion to HEO. Plus you meet colleagues from all over the civil service and I made friends who I am still in contact with and we all support each other in our careers. Details are on civil service learning.

    Link to this comment
  53. Jack Joness

    Great story but where is the information on how and where to declare yourself disabled?

    Link to this comment
  54. Jaee Samant

    Rupert - thank you for being so open. Unfortunately, we still live in a society in which it takes courage to be open about having mental health issues and especially in the workplace. You will have inspired others to be open too - and that will challenge preconceptions and stigma and lead to real change.

    Link to this comment
  55. Helen

    It's really good that Rupert is setting an example of how people with disabilities can succeed. I've been on the point of giving up my career aspirations because of my disability, which doesn't seem fair, but when you have damaged mental health, you don't have the mental strength to fight to system. It's a shame our HR processes are so adversarial - I've had a number of managers disparage me because of my mental health, but if I want to challenge that it's effectively my word against theirs and who will believe me? I don't even believe myself - depression makes you feel that they're probably right that you're no good. Feeling ashamed of yourself for being ill (which I know you shouldn't be it's all too easy for it to happen) makes you perform worse, and then that makes you ashamed too and you get into a downward spiral.

    It's very hard to make things better because having a complaint or grievance upheld against you is pretty much the worst thing that can happen to a manager. So when there's an accusation of something having gone wrong (prejudice, bullying etc), the manager fights tooth and nail to defend themself. And the person they have to fight against is probably a more junior member of staff who may have a disability to contend with. So the manager wins and no change for the better takes place. I don't know how to fix that but it's a real problem.

    Link to this comment
    • Kevin Donnelly

      Helen - I share your comments "when you have damaged mental health, you don't have the mental strength to fight to system". You accurately (in my view) point to the fact that if anyone with a health condition raises a concern about how they're treated, the HR machine kicks in to ensure that managers are placed beyond criticism - the trite epithet of "tough management" being the usual HR inspired retort to allegations of bullying, harassment and discrimination.

      HR's unhealthy focus on potential Employment Tribunal claims seems to be the reason why so many of our people can be discriminated against with impunity.

      I have even heard senior members of the Service sweep away the poor People Survey results on discrimination, harassment and bullying, as merely the vexatious niggles of a disgruntled few. It's a good ploy to divert focus away from poor procedures or practices but it does not demonstrate a real commitment or understanding of the problem we face.

      This attitude seriously undermines the good work and intentions of people like Rupert who seek a diverse and inclusive workforce.

      As an Oxbridge graduate, I'm sure Rupert is aware that he falls into an over-represented (compared with non-Oxbridge employees) group in the highest ranks of the Service. As a white man of a certain age, he has also benefited from opportunities that are not equally accessible to people who don't share his gender or ethnicity.

      This is why I believe Rupert's "coming out" and support for a diverse and inclusive Civil Service is so important - but unachievable unless we all take responsibility for changing current attitudes.

      This means we must use the processes and procedures available to us - Appeals, Grievances, Mediation etc - to ensure our voices are heard.

      It's time to challenge bad procedures which shove us into the bottom 10% of "Must Improves", time to hold those managers to account who refuse or fail to consider our health conditions and who wear us down and force us out.

      Rupert's article is a declaration that it's time for change within our Civil Service. Collectively we can make it happen.

      Link to this comment
  56. Philip Le Marquand

    I am encouraged by the commitment, both personal and professional of senior leaders and managers within the Civil Service to issues of equality and diversity. Within DWP I recognise well written policies to support staff.
    But .....
    There seems to be a big divide between higher management and staff at the bottom of the scale -( I am an AO). Here there is still a lack of awareness, support, management understanding and flexibility.

    Link to this comment
  57. Alexandra A Ankrah

    Promoting Access to Work more widely - the Government Grant Scheme (up to £40K)

    I think that Rupert's story is an important contribution - because it is often seeing someone else's journey, that helps us better understand ourselves and indeed our own journey.

    In past roles I have also helped colleagues access support - being in Recovery and living with mental health issues is part of the fabric of many people's lives - the 1 in 4 people. For colleagues who are Disabled by their working & living environment, Access to Work is an important, often overlooked resource. Though in fairness Access to work also funds adjustments for people living with mental health issues e.g. Coaching, independent mentoring etc

    One thing that has surprised me on joining the Civil Service, is what seems to be near zero profile of the use or promotion of the DWP's Access to Work grant scheme. With grants of up to £40K, as well as the Two-Ticks scheme, I would have thought there would be wider push on sharing information on practical help available for people. Perhaps a challenge is to encourage greater information sharing, as a way of breaking down the barriers. If there are any HR colleagues reading, perhaps they will also consider letting prospective candidates know there is help out there.

    See here: https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work/eligibility

    Link to this comment
  58. Karen

    I'm pleased for you that you have had a positive experience and have felt supported in being open about your condition. This has not been my experience.

    Whilst my condition is not a mental health one, six years ago I was diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition which subsequently lead to me having surgery and being on medication for the rest of my life. My condition is classed as a disability under the terms of the act. When I joined my current dept 2.5 yrs ago I mentioned at the interview that I'd been working at home one day a week for medical reasons and asked if this would be acceptable in my new role. I was assured it wouldn't be an issue. However, my line-manager subsequently refused to allow me to work at home. When I reminded her that it was one of the recommendations from an OH Assessment her response was that she "didn't have to do what they said". She then requested a further OH because she didn't believe the findings of the previous one or even that I was ill. She also accused me of "rolling into the office at 10am" - despite the fact I'm on flexible hours and knowing that my condition impacts my sleep and leaves me feeling constantly exhausted. When I finally opened up to my direct reports about my condition one asked why I took the job when I knew I was ill! My condition affects me both physically and mentally but, because there are few visible symptoms, I receive little support or understanding at work. I feel unwell most days but never take time off sick and, on a personal level, have struggled to come to terms with living with a condition for which there is no cure. This can leave you feeling very isolated in the workplace.

    I applaud your openness and hope it will lead to a greater culture of acceptance and understanding at all levels in the civil service. In the meantime, there needs to be a mechanism for staff to raise concerns about their treatment at the hands of line-managers and colleagues who fail to show them the support and understanding they deserve.

    Link to this comment
    • S

      I hear you. Some years ago I had a period of depression following a relationship breakdown, treated with counselling and medication. I was open with my direct reports, and to my knowledge/to my face they were fine with me (I only stayed with that team a few months before thankfully moving to another job) but the manager was a different story altogether. She basically told me off for having been open with my staff that I was having counselling, saying it would damage my image of professionalism and reputation as a manager if I was open. She also gave me a lot of hassle about coming in "late" after counselling appointments, when I was dependent on public transport and live in a rural area where this is infrequent. This manager achieved rapid promotion through the grades, but her horrible attitude is symptomatic of a certain clique of managers in my organisation who also achieved rapid promotion - that speaks volumes about the real attitudes to disability, mental health and reasonable adjustments on that site/directorate- only the "hard" managers with no humanity that go far, and lack of consideration is richly rewarded.

      Link to this comment
  59. Matt Meynell, CS Workplace Adjustment Team

    We have received a number of questions on how to declare a disability. I thought it would be helpful to post on this.

    If you wish to declare a disability, you will need to access your Departmental Shared Service self-service IT platform, for example Resource Management or Adelphi.

    When you have logged in, select the page on the left that takes you to Employee Self Service and then Personal Information. You can update your disability status on the personal information page.

    I hope this works for you, but do call the CS Workplace Adjustment Team on 0114 2948902 with any issues and we'll either advise directly or put you in touch with the relevant team in your department.

    Link to this comment
    • Kevin Donnelly

      Matt - this is really useful - thank you.

      I wasn't aware that individuals could approach CS Workplace Adjustment Team directly and assumed this could only be done via management.

      In my experience (and I'm sure this will be common), is that having declared a health condition, a managers' response (usually with advice from HR) will be to instigate an Occupational Health review.

      Sometimes the wording of the OH request can appear sinister. Are they seeking guidance on how best to support or how best to remove the individual?

      The manager will then discuss the OH report and often attempts to shift responsibility on to the individual to identify "reasonable adjustments" and with a shake of the head, will discount or dismiss those suggestions they insist cannot be supported by the business.

      From my experience, where I have made suggestions for adjustments, the manager has sent these to the Adjustments Team and then delivered the final solution - a watered-down version of my suggestions.

      What I discovered some time later was that the Adjustments Team supported all of my proposals and went further in giving additional suggestions which, if my manager had cared to implement, would have been extremely valuable and beneficial in ensuring I was not disadvantaged because of my conditions.

      If people are able to interact directly with the Workplace Adjustments Team this is a manifestly better process which removes unnecessary hurdles.

      I'm certain it would encourage and empower people with disabilities to seek the correct support at the right time, in a relatively anonymous way.

      It cannot be right that manager's, unskilled in diversity/inclusion and perhaps lacking empathy with disabled colleagues, should be in so powerful a position that they have total control over what available support is disclosed to and delivered for an individual.

      I think this direct access to the Adjustments Team needs to widely publicised as a priority and could be a very quick win in delivering for our people.

      Link to this comment
  60. Claire

    I'm afraid Rupert's vision of a caring and supportive civil service has not reached HMRC yet.

    My husband was fired from HMRC after he had a nervous breakdown. His depression and anxiety had been getting worse for months and his line manager - who was fully aware of what was happening - decided to move him to the call centre, where he would have to deal with unpredictability and irate customers. I found him crying and shaking with fear in the kitchen early one morning and we both agreed what was being done to him was tantamount to torture.

    He subsequently applied for ill-health retirement, but despite his GP's support, the outsourced health supplier (not a specialist in mental health) maintained he might be able to return to work one day, so couldn't be retired on ill-health grounds. By this time my husband was too ill to consider appealing, so now we live on a reduced income. At least my husband doesn't have to face the 'what have you got to be depressed about' treatment he received from his manager any more, but what a perfect example of how not to handle mental health difficulties!

    Link to this comment
    • Steve Glenn

      So sorry to hear about your husband. Did leaving hmrc make things better or worse? [the routine of work helps some even if it is extremely difficult.] Is he better now?
      I had a breakdown in 2006 and the response from management was mixed. First line manager was not at all sympathetic, but his boss was, having seen his own father in a similar state. HR were similarly supportive.
      Things are getting better. But unfortunately not in time for your husband. Best wishes for the future..........

      Link to this comment
  61. anon2

    I am interested to know why we are penalised for being ill, even if we have more that one illness and they are backed up by ATOS and our own doctors.
    I and many other disabled staff come in when unfiit for 2 reasons:
    1/ we may be even worse next week.
    2/ We will be persecuted for taking time off to recover.
    We are told that it is up to our managers what action following sick leave is taken, but this is nonsense. They will always take the line of punishment because they have targets to reach and higher management who are happy to see this happen.
    When I am ill, I cant help it. i would rather be healthy, it must be lovely not to take 15 meds a day, to be pain free and live without anxiety. So why add to my problems by persecuting me when I am ill?

    Link to this comment
  62. Susie

    I too have a hidden disability - I have 3 chronic medical conditions and take 18-20 tablets a day, 2 of which are classed as life-sustaining hence I fall under the category of disabled. I suffer from chronic fatigue and depressive episodes as a result of my conditions but am lucky enough to work flexi-time. I have been under restoring efficiency action most of my MOD career (14 years) but always manage to pull my attendance up to the required standard which can be a real struggle. For 5 years I tried to get access to a laptop so that I could work from home one day a week and at other times when absolutely necessary - this was always declined despite OH/Welfare recommendation but a year ago when someone joined my line management chain from an OGD this request was supported although it then took another 6 months for it to become reality.- I work for the MoD. Being able to work from home has increased my productivity and has benefited the organisation. I have just completed a Disability Passport as I need to get a permanent laptop (I currently have to renew every 2 months subject to availability) and it was recommended by the RAST. I agree that hidden disabilities can be a real problem as on the outside I look normal but my health betrays that vision. I do tell people I work closely with as if I am taken ill I may need an emergency injection but most people do not know. It has also had an impact on my career prospects but I am determined to climb the ladder at least one more rung and hope with the adjustments I now have in place this will be possible in the not too distant future.

    Link to this comment
  63. Rob Neil - MoJ Race Project

    Brilliant Blog!!!!!👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 Firstly, well done Rupert (for all your journey AND in sharing those parts of your story so candidly). You are a shining example of 'real' leadership. I shall be sharing this Blog with my friends and colleagues across the service as a form of encouragement, support and inspiration. Together we really can make the civil service a better place to work, for ALL of us and who we are. Stay Strong R🙏🏾

    Link to this comment
  64. Mark

    There are also people who have medical and other conditions that they prefer to keep private, and to be judged or accepted for who they are despite any condition. Particularly regarding ethnicity, for some of us our ethnicity is incidental or irrelevant to who we are, and we feel a constant pressure to conform to some image (someone else's image?) of who or what we should be.

    Link to this comment
  65. Ian Mitchell

    Thank you Rupert.

    The Passport is essential; it is a quick way to understand how to work with diversity effectively: How to give the best and get the best from a colleague.

    Diversity, once unlocked, offers advantages - the Passport is a key.

    Link to this comment
  66. Gwyn

    Thank you Rupert for this honest and open blog, and for leading the changes that will see the Civil Service become an increasingly inclusive employer and force in wider society.

    Link to this comment
  67. No Chance

    Unfortunately there is still a long way to go in some parts of the Civil Service. Having needed several operations as well as other procedures over the last 3 years at the same time as learning to live with a condition that despite many medical interventions will never be "cured" and the anxiety and depression that has also accompanied such a diagnosis, the final straw for me was being told I was leaving my colleagues in the lurch when I received another appointment for more surgery. Only when I challenged my line manager about the inappropriate nature of their comment did they backtrack, but that was more fear that I would escalate the matter rather than any understanding that they had caused me distress. Unfortunately my line manager, despite being in the role for upward of 15 years still has a woeful ignorance or empathy for anyone with a disability.

    Link to this comment
  68. Jonathan Boylett

    I recently took my first official period of sick leave for what sounds like a similar situation to Rupert's. The truth is that I have struggled with anxiety since 1989 when I was 23. If I'm honest I've probably coped with it for as long as I have known what it is to worry about anything. I've resisted long term medication (maybe unwisely) and only allowed doctors to prescribe me with beta blockers which soften the outward physical manifestations of the anxiety. It has taken many A&E visits to convince me that physically there isn't much wrong with me....and there will no doubt be more.
    Everyone at HMRC has been so supportive and allowed me a degree of flexibility that has meant that I can continue to play a full role in my team even though I work part of my day at home where I also care for my disabled mother. I feel valued and am hoping that I will be able to stay at HMRC 20/21 and beyond when we move to Regional Centres.
    My faith as a Christian has also helped. Not just the hope we have but the very practical present help that I receive from friendships with other members of my church, many of whom are doctors!
    Our minds are the most complex and least understood parts of the body. They are capable of so much and sometimes it's too much for the rest of our body to cope with. I've found that work is the best thing. We all need stability and normality as well as challenges on a daily basis. I've always found the Civil Service to be a place where all these can be found and without exception I have always found managers to be understanding and caring. I just need to remember that managers are not mind readers and so if I have a problem I need to tell them and not to suffer in silence.

    Link to this comment
  69. Simon

    Unfortunately, the often draconian sickness absence systems mean that those with disabilities are treated poorly.
    It's often 'pot luck' whether you get a Manager who understands, or whether you get a Manager who can aggravate the existing condition(s).

    Like many others, I've seen those with disabilities being 'managed' out of the business, or made to feel that they 'must' retire early.

    Many disabilities mean the odd spells of needing time off. Not all obviously, but some physical or mental illnesses mean there are occasions when you're definitely not fit for work.

    And I'd agree that the Service often manages Mental Health issues appallingly. Again it's pot luck whether you get a Manager with empathy, or whether you get a Manager who keeps hitting you with a stick.
    Unfortunately, Mental Illness isn't as evident as a broken bone, so often you'll hear people (including Managers) saying that people are 'swinging the lead', or otherwise faking illness.

    Link to this comment
  70. Stuart

    I have found support from management hit and miss to be honest. When I was first diagnosed with depression, my then manager took the line that I was only depressed from the date of the letter of the diagnosis from my GP and that she expected me to be fully functioning before then. Any drop in standards, therefore was caused by my laziness. As I was in such a low place, I didn't have the strength to mount a meaningful challenge to this point of view. I was very very close to quitting.
    On the other hand when I got diagnosed with Aspergers last year (I am in my 40s), my current manager researched the condition and realised it had been something I had been struggling with all my life - even though I didn't know it myself at the time.

    Link to this comment
  71. Mike

    Good to see this discussed. But please don't confuse issues by misusing terms that are already widely used and well understood.

    For example "passport"... Everyone knows what a passport is and in what context it is used.

    Can you please use some other term that "passport" for this new piece of paperwork?

    Thank you.

    Link to this comment
  72. Max Courtney

    Dear Rupert

    I found your honesty heart warming and would like to know more about the 'passport' and employee assistance schemed.
    My background is in nursing and I feel that a holistic approach is needed even more so for mental well being. Services are fragmented and will only deal with one aspect of illness. WE need someone who can help coordinate their care, mental health first aiders are a good starting point more needs to be done to enable our fellow colleagues to obtain the support they need.

    Link to this comment
  73. Anon.

    Unfortunately, it's a mixed bag for me. Whilst some managers have tried to do their best, I've been taken to over 7 Occ Health appointments, all with the same adjustments, only a few had been made. Despite having an adjustment suggested repeatedly to help rectify a problem, it has been ignored and I have been told that a disciplinary will follow if my chronic/lifelong, progressive, joint eating disease causes another period of sickness. It will, undoubtedly. Managers and Dept. are aware of this, but continue to 'follow policy' - which ultimately closes the door to ALL disabled persons who suffer from progressive diseases such as MS, RhArth and others. Without some wiggle room, we're all doomed to face losing our jobs over something we cannot control and the dept will not help with.

    Link to this comment
  74. Kenneth Robertsob

    I did write some comments before but as I spoke out against bad management & the fact I have been unfairly treated by management my comments have been erased. I have been disabled since my first road accident 10 April 1971. I have worked for DSS, Inland Rev, HMRC since 8Jan 1979.Looking at me you cannot see I am disabled. I could list loads of unfair treatment I have had from management.
    I am 75% blind 50% deaf. As I lost my best friend in the accident I also suffer from depression. From Aug 1991 I also had 2 parents to look after, with my fathers stroke.
    I have always done my best, always tried to be helpful. One boss said well Kens no bother when he comes in he is straight to work. Yet never asked about promotion even though I was doing more work than the people who were fit. I have since had some heart trouble but still working well.
    Management wanted to get rid of the AA posts in GOEG & so moved me to Tynemouth Hse.
    At first the put me on the readers, (which gives most people eye strain). Putting someone registered blind on that was crazy. I have heard that work I did in COEG is still coming in & is now done by AO's & EO's. You seam to put a few comment on with slight complaint but anything that disagrees with you never gets shown. If I was in outside industry I would have put in a complaint & received £1,000. for the unfair treatment.

    Link to this comment
  75. LITTLE LONDONER

    I suffered a minor menatal health problem in 1981 which was resolved after 1 month' s antidepressants treatment. I was appointed 3 years later to my current department (MOD) un "unestablished (health)" terms. I havs been advised that 32 years later, without a repeat of the same problem, I can expect never to be given DV clearance,however honest I am about the condition. That wouldn't matter were it not for the fact that in my area, posts which rarely required anything more than the most ocasional supervised access to TOP SECRET material (sometimes not even that) are being advertised with a requirement for DV clearance. This kind of process-focussed risk aversion has worsened sine the advent of the Government Security Classifications in 2014 and discriminate shugely against those with health problems that in practice are trivial and a long time int he past. The official line is that there's no point in having a vetting system if you ignore the results, i.e. the same line as was taken in 1984. I'm sorry but we've got to move with the times.

    Link to this comment