Case Study - General Business and Management and Anxiety / Stress
This information has been extracted from: Being in Management as a Disabled Person, The ADP Employment Series: http://www.adp.org.uk/downloads/Being%20in%20Management.pdf
Terry is a Survivor of the mental health system.
Terry Simpson has been the co-ordinator of the UK Advocacy Network for five years. “I co-ordinate the activities of a national network of groups involved in mental health advocacy and user groups, planning activities around mental health. I co-ordinate the activities of three other workers.
I’d been working as a mental health advocate for about four years and I’d enjoyed it. I was excited by the prospect of working at a National rather than a local level. I was interested in the Survivors’ movement. It’s been very good.
My previous work had been to develop a user led mental health advocacy group and I’d been the chair of the management committee of that. I was managing the paid workers so I had a lot of experience. I first went into a psychiatric unit when I was twenty three. I was doing a post graduate teacher training course. I’d become ill after two terms. Afterwards I tried to pick it up and get back on the course. It was fairly clear that I wasn’t welcome to carry on. I didn’t get the qualification. My employers have been quite sensitive about my possible mental ill health. That’s partly because the committee is made up of Survivors, who understand what it’s like.
I have a supervisor who is very good at making sure that I feel all right about taking time off and that things are kept in perspective. I don’t need any physical adaptations. It has been more in terms of time, and measures to keep the stress down.
Sometimes, it is possible to end up in the situation where I’m being supportive to a member of the management committee, even though technically they’re my boss. That can be a problem. The only real qualifying factor to work here was you had to be a Survivor. I was used to having to keep quiet about it. It was very refreshing not only to be honest about it, but it actually became a positive feature. I get paid less than somebody who is managing a local advocacy project. The committee intends to pay me more for the work that I do - when they get more money.
It gives you self confidence to be in a decision making role. If you think you can’t think, if you’re told that you’re thinking wrong, then it has a tremendous effect on you and you can spend the rest of your life not trusting your thinking and not thinking you’re good at making decisions. To be in a management role and have the job of making decisions is very empowering. It can make you remember how much you’ve got to offer. It’s really good for your self confidence. But it’s quite stressful. My advice is find out what your strengths are and go into something that you know about. I was confident that I knew about mental health having been in the system and worked as an advocate. I know as much about this as any of these professionals. That gave me confidence to manage. Stay flexible. You have to keep thinking in the job because managing is about adapting to new situations. You have to have a important thing is to get good support for yourself. You get isolated very easily. There can be a bit of a barrier between the other workers and the manager. You need to have really good support networks. You need to be talking things through with someone and getting advice, rather than reacting to a crisis.”