Katrina* is a secretary in a large company. She has worked for a senior manager for 10 years, having come with him from another company. They always got on well and her work had been good. After a number of years, Katrina started to suffer from depression, anxiety and panic attacks. She was often absent and when at work, would spend long periods of time away from her desk. Her work performance suffered, she found it difficult to complete work on time and would often forget things.
After a long period of time trying to support Katrina and help her manage her work, her supervisor contacted the HR department because he felt unable to continue to do this. The HR manager met with Katrina for coffee. Initially, Katrina was uncomfortable about disclosing details of her mental health problems but did eventually give permission for the HR manager to contact her doctor.
Katrina let the HR manager know that she was organising to meet with a psychologist. The HR manager kept in contact with Katrina to follow her progress and also kept in contact with Katrina’s supervisor to monitor her work performance. However, her mental health did not improve and after 4 months it became clear that Katrina was not keeping the appointments with her psychologist.
At this point, the company engaged a rehabilitation provider to help support Katrina and bring a work focus to her treatment. The rehabilitation provider accompanied Katrina to the sessions with her doctor and her psychologist. As Katrina’s GP was not willing to give the company very much information about Katrina’s condition, the company also organised for Katrina to see a psychiatrist and to have cognitive testing.
After having more time off work, Katrina returned and the company arranged modified work arrangements for her. Her secretarial role was changed to a word processing role and her hours were reduced. However, Katrina remains unwell and has had more time off work.
*not her real name