Emily Kenna writes from personal experience about the need to support staff in challenging times
I always considered myself a mentally strong person and have invested in it through the years. However, that was challenged when my son was born. He slept very poorly, often for no more than 40 minutes at a time. It was tough.
Shortly after his first birthday, we found out I was pregnant with our daughter and the lack of sleep hit us even harder. Some of you may know the toll that takes on a person and family unit.
As our son was turning two, a paediatrician advised us that he was severely autistic and his life would be very different to that of a typical child. Our world caved in. Rightly or wrongly, you have a perception of what your life is going to be like and this wasn’t part of ours.
There have been times where I have struggled to balance everything in my life and I have needed compassion and understanding from those around me – family, friends and colleagues. I am not alone in feeling this way. People are suffering with bereavements, illnesses, disabilities, financial difficulties, addictions and much more.
Compassion and understanding are vital. Do I think our profession helps its staff balance the challenges life throws at us? I am not sure
Compassion and understanding are vital. Do I think our profession helps its staff balance the challenges life throws at us? I am not sure. I can only speak from my own personal experiences and it would be interesting to hear others.
Lack of support
In 2017, our family had to make a tough decision regarding our son – whether to send him to mainstream school with full time one-to-one support or choose a special school. We went with the former. I was anxious, as he doesn’t cope well with change.
I approached my employer to ask if I could work from home, as I wanted to drop him off at the local school and then get on with my work from home. I was wasting two hours a day on the commute and I really wanted to be at the school gates when I dropped him off. While they would change my hours, they were not prepared to let me work from home. I felt incredibly let down as I had worked hard and believed I had shown my commitment over the years. Nevertheless, I stayed.
Our son did not adapt well to school life and I remember the tears I cried during that time, but we strived on. Once he settled, I realised that I couldn’t work for this employer and it sent me on a journey I am now grateful for. If you are in any role where you have influence over others, please think about your actions and the huge impact they can have on their lives.
Emily Kenna is director of Sense Risk Solutions Ltd