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Bullying in the Workplace - its effects on our Mental Health...!

Q

Quinonostante

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Totnes
I encountered workplace bullying and it's effects on me were catastrophic, not simply the bullying, but what happened when I took a huge step and reported it to the Management.......

Here's my story!
It's been several months since I entered a Grievance to my employers (who are a leading Mental Health Charity). I had, prior to writng the Grievance, complained in writing twice about the individual whom I considered to be a Bully. The individual in question is a Volunteer and Service User. (I was not the only complainant). The situation was very difficult and I did suffer what my Doctor cited on my sick note 'reactive depression'.

The CEO's initial response to the complaints was to tell the Volunteer I had complained against them, which increased the bullying!

Eventually, as if apparently often the case, the individual bullied until one day I snapped back. I decided then that I would enter a Grievance against the Bully, citing my then Line Manager and the CEO of being complicit in the bullying because of their inaction, since I had made them aware over several months that there was a problem with this particular indivuals behaviour.

The Grievance was referred to another agency, outside of the Charity, since the CEO was subject of the Grievance too. It was referred to a close friend of the CEO, a Manager of another Mental Health Service.

I attended the hearing with a colleague, only to find that the secretary of my employer was there to take minutes. I thought this a tad unusual, but felt that I had nothing to be concerned about since I was only telling the truth about my experiences. I recall leaving the Grievance meeting feeling that I had received a fair hearing, and whilst I surmised that the person investigating would not find 'bullying' they had indicated that they felt there were a series of mismanaged situations, and that this would mean there would be discussions with my employer around how they could be resolved and the situation with the person I alleged was a bully would be managed appropriately (since this was a mental health service I was keen that the bully was tackled carefully but firmly, because I felt that in order for them to be able to function in society they had to understand that they were accountable for their behaviour, and bullying is intolerable in society).

You will probably laugh knowlingly when I tell you that I was absolutely astounded to receive a grievance report in which my line manager implied I was the aggressor, and had been resistant to working alongside the person who was bullying me. The report concluded that due to my sickness (caused directly by the bullying) that I lacked resilience! It implied that I had difficulty working with difficult individuals, which I found unbeleiveable since I have worked with people from all walks of life all of my working life (I started out as a Police Officer).

The colleague who attended the Grievance hearing with me was later informed by a professional colleague from the NHS (an outside agency) that there were rumours that she and I had lied and exaggerated at the hearing!

There were no suggestions within the report regarding how the situation should be further managed, it was just left...as if it had been all down to me!

I resigned from the job, and my GP signed me sick for the remainder of my notice period, it was impossible to return to the building.

After leaving I was to learn from a former colleague that they and several others had only a few years previously made a joint Grievance about the same CEO, only to have their Grievance investigated by the same friend of the CEO, have it squashed and turned against them, the CEO counter accused them of bullying.

A Service User, who complained about the same bully, had her complaint referred to the same friend of the CEO. Suprisingly the investigator, didn't accept bullying, however accepted that this person (a female) should be allowed at least one day per week at the Centre without the presence of the bully, and this recommendation was made to the CEO. The request was refused without any proper explanation. The female serivce user felt unsafe in the building, and this was simply ignored.

Since I left there have been several Service Users from the same service approach me with their stories of bullying, normally by the same individual who bullied me. Two of my former colleagues (who have also left the charity) are at a loss about what we should do. We hope there will be some kind of independent investigation by Social Serivces or The Charities Commission where we will be able to give evidence without fear of retribution.

One Service User who was suspended for allegedly gossiping to unspecified people about unspecified things,( they refused to tell her what she was supposed to have said or done) has approached the people responsible for The Protection Of Vulnerable Adults, the press and her M.P. The local NHS Trust (who are responsible for helping fund this service) has been quoted as saying that they have overseen all complaints about bullying and are satisfied that there is nothing amiss, but they have never approached me - a bonafide complainant. They have refused to call witnesses when another complainant made a written statement and asked for witnesses, who had agreed to be called, to speak up.

Three weeks ago I received a visit from the Police, who served me with a Harrassment Order which claimed I had sent various unspecified emails to the CEO and her team, which the CEO was upset by (I have only sent ever sent emails as part of a bulk emailing with website updates, and strangely they had never asked me not to! I cannot figure out how the CEO managed to jump the stages invovled in obtaining such an order (ie. asking me not to contact them, if I ignored the request getting a Solicitor to formally ask me to refrain from sending emails, stating possible consequences if I ignored the request.) I was too shocked at the time to even ask the Police, despite the fact they were really decent about the whole thing. The Harrassment Order, I am sure was served in order to discredit me in the event that there is an investigation into the service, and that I may be called as a witness.

I am prepared to have a day in Court if necessary if it means that the behaviour of this company is investigated thorougly, however I feel unable to initiate the investigation (even though the Police who served the notice encouraged me to approach the relevant authorities) because I fear furher retribution. My two colleagues (who have also left the company feel similarly fearful, one has already had false accusations directed at her from the company).

It seems so absolutely amazing to me, this entire situation, and it could have been so easily avoided. All they had to do was admit they had a bully within their organisation and plan how to tackle the issue. It seems that all they have achieved is proving they are very powerful/bullying? I couldn't understand, until recently, why they would bother to react that way until I spoke to someone last week who said it was blindlingly obvious - if they had admitted that the person I accused was a bully, then they may have to accept that the people who have complained in the past were also right in their accusations and they simply couldn't afford to risk that.

I still feel hurt, astounded and angered by the whole saga (this is an abridged version!) and I am sure that there are many who have similar residual feelings from their experiences.

I just wonder how you are meant to recover / get over the whole thing?:confused:
 
blackdog

blackdog

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tell me about it !

I've worked for the NHS for over 25 years, continual bullying over a long period I believe began/triggerred my depressive illness. The bullying still carries on through the NHS sickness management policy !!!:mad:
 
nickh

nickh

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Very sorry to hear of your dreadful experiences - it is especially shocking that you should have had to endure this at the hands of a Mental Health charity.

I am sure you are right that bullying in the workplace - and indeed everywhere - can be a major cause of mental health problems. This is why the fight for mental health includes fighting against bullying, oppression and injustice. (No apologies for a rant on this one :)).

Nick.
 
Q

Quinonostante

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Totnes
No need to apologise for the rant! I have such residual feelings of anger and frustration which I have to squash every day - trying to move on from this has been one of the toughest things I've had to handle! Harder than my diagnosis has ever been and I think that is partially because of the injustice, and more because it is a Mental Health Charity. (It's worth noting that the charity involved has branches which are afillaited to it and thus the whole charity is not at fault.)
 
M

Michael

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I totally agree with you regarding bullying.

But may I say that, I initially regarded myself as being bullied at work, but it was my original fighting (not literally) ability in the job that got me it, when I no longer could take it I kept quiet, all the others carried on unbeknown to them that me being quiet was not me accepting. I had a major underlying problem with depression which was then brought to the fore, and with me not accepting it and blaming bullying, which even the company partially accepted I didn't receive the right treatment, until I accepted the depression.

What (I think) I am trying to say, is that bullying is totally unacceptable but do not close your eyes to any other problem that also may be in the workplace.

I know what I wanted to say, reading through this I am not sure if I have put it across correctly.

Michael

ps I am posting this hoping that the reader will understand where I am coming from and do not intend it to be derogatory to any person, site, or any other point of view, it was just a perception that I had which in hindsight was wrong and if taken further could have had disasterous consequences
 
M

Michael

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wish I never replied to this post now, its so easy to read things into something that is not meant, it really is 'bugging' me.

Contentious threads I shall have to steer clear from!

Michael
 
Q

Quinonostante

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Totnes
Michael,

Nothing wrong with your response...you are right, it's all about perceptions too, especially if bullying is subtle.....
 
robbo

robbo

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yeah bullying at work is bad,I still say quino is kinda cute!:)
 
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