Canopi helped me to manage stress and continue working in social care

Joanne is an experienced social worker in Wales. She sought help from Canopi in 2023 after struggling with work stress. In this blog, she explains how cognitive behavioural therapy provided through Canopi helped her to manage stress at work.

I am a social care worker with 30-years’ experience of working in health and social care in rural Wales. In my current role within a safeguarding team, I deal with some complex cases which contributed to me having overwhelming feelings of stress in 2023.

At the time, I didn’t feel able to speak to my manager about this and I avoided going to see my GP, afraid that they might sign me off work, resulting in increased pressure on my colleagues – not to mention the unwanted attention that it would bring.

In the past, I had experienced panic attacks and moved work teams in an attempt to deal with similar feelings. This time, I wanted to find a way to manage my work stress so I could stay in the safeguarding team but avoid falling back into the cycle of panic that I had experienced before.

I recalled seeing a Canopi poster on the wall at work and reading more about it on the work intranet. Knowing that I could contact them anonymously, without my employer being aware, helped me to take the first step. After referring myself online, I spoke to a lovely Doctor Advisor who gave me some initial advice and then signposted me on to a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) therapist.

The CBT sessions involved me completing activities each week and then discussing them with my therapist via Teams. Initially, I was worried that meeting online would not be as effective, but I was wrong.

My therapist was very skilful in getting me to open up and reflect on my thought processes at work in response to the situations I was dealing with. She helped me to realise that we cannot quickly and easily change some of the thoughts that we have, but we can change the way that we respond to them. With time, I began to change my perspective and realise that the people I was working with (colleagues and service users) were not just my responsibility.

Therapy also helped me to recognise that my work-life balance was out of kilter and that I needed to set boundaries to prevent the system or other people from taking advantage of my generosity. For example, I used to feel guilty for taking my annual leave and would respond to colleagues whilst I was not in work. My therapist helped me to understand my colleagues felt this was acceptable because I had been allowing that pattern of behaviour and that it’s ok to be assertive and say ‘no’.

The help that Canopi provided was massive. I struggle to put into words how much it helped me to continue working in my job as a social worker. Since my sessions with Canopi have come to an end, I am able to better manage stress and reuse the activities recommended by my therapist to support help me do this.

I would certainly recommend Canopi to anyone working in social care.

I have confided in two colleagues about how the service has benefitted me and that it has had a much more positive impact than going off sick would. I can only thank Canopi profusely for their help and hope that this blog is helpful to anyone feeling stuck.

Canopi has received over 700 referrals from social care staff in Wales since 2022.
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