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Managing anxiety and returning to work

Sam, who lives in Kirklees, accessed support from the local Community Links Engagement and Recovery (CLEAR) service; she experiences high levels of anxiety, which has led to long periods of absence from work. To help her achieve her goal of returning to work, the team decided that she should have access to Brain in Hand.

One of the things that had caused Sam the most difficulty was the prospect of travelling on the train: the idea of a train being late or crowded could raise her anxiety to the point that she would feel unable to travel at all. To overcome this, and with help from her supporters, she filled her Brain in Hand software with all the problems she might face during her commute; for each of them, she added coping strategies that she knew worked for her.

Now, instead of panicking if the train's too busy, Sam can take out her phone and look at a simple set of strategies. Brain in Hand reminders her to take a few deep breaths or play a word game on her phone; these are things that distract her from the situation and help her to calm down, but which she would often forget in the moment without a reminder from Brain in Hand.

'If something does go wrong,' she says, 'I know that I don't need to think about it. I've already thought about it.'

When Sam started with Brain in Hand, her system was packed with problems and coping strategies for all eventualities. Now, though, these behaviours have become automatic: she can recall what to do to overcome her anxieties without needing the nudge.

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Sam tells her story

She still makes a note of her anxiety levels on Brain in Hand three times a day, a simple activity that ensures that she takes a moment to think about how she's feeling, grounding her and reminding her to take care of herself. The ability to press a button and receive support at any time from CLEAR also makes her feel safe in the knowledge that she won't have to deal with a problem on her own.

Four months since starting using Brain in Hand, Sam now has the confidence to go out and do things she wouldn’t have done before, and feels that she's looking after herself better. As a result of being able to travel more independently, she's also been able to return to work.

'It’s like having a helping hand in your pocket,' she says. 'Having Brain in Hand has helped my confidence: I know I can go out and do things. Without it I don’t think I would have the confidence to get on the train and be able to get into work. I would never have dreamt of doing that before.'

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Sam has now been discharged from CLEAR; she was anxious about losing support, but feels that her stepping-down process has been gradual and safe because of Brain in Hand.

'My support didn’t suddenly stop and leave me on my own; I still have my buddy in my pocket.'

Learn more

To find out more about how Brain in Hand works in health and social care settings like the CLEAR service, visit our health and social care page.

Or, to learn about Brain in Hand's work supporting people to start and stay in work, visit our workplace page.