Campaign Against Unnecessary Suspensions & Exclusions in the NHS (CAUSE)


Coping with suspension

What we think
What we say
Is what we do
So surviving starts with the battle of our minds

What state is your mind in?

If we have a whole load of junk there already, it will be particularly difficult to deal with this enormous pressure. This may be the time when we finally decide to stop trying to jam the lid back on the can of proverbial worms (and anyway the lid may now refuse to stay put) and get help.

Available counselling services

Your occupational health department should be able to offer a counselling service. (Their service is completely confidential. I have been informed by some people through the website that their Occupational Health department was not independent and do not provide a confidential service. I am not sure how a person can find this out. Others have told me that their Occupational Health people have been excellent.)

There may be a counsellor at your GP surgery if they have one.

There will also be private practitioners and there may be some volunteer counsellors connected with a local church or similar organisation. (They should have accreditation and be properly supervised.)

If counselling is not for you

  • Maybe there is some negative stuff inside but you feel you can cope with it.
  • Now stop and ask yourself that if you were like a stick of rock (no don’t give up yet – read on!) and there was a word written through you, what would that word be?
  • What is the first word or words or thoughts that come into your mind?
  • If it is a positive word then you are off to a good start. If it is a negative word, or words that are indifferent then you may need to take extra special care of yourself.

Due to the possible ill-effects of suspension on your health that you are already experiencing,



Decide on some rewards for yourself right at the beginning. You don’t have the cost of going to work (though you may have other costs through being at home). Could you use some of your transport money for example, to fund some nice treats for yourself? Books, music, a massage, ten pin bowling with friends, a meal out with the family…….

Survival strategies

If you live alone think seriously about staying with a family member or friend or having them to stay with you. You are used to your own company but this is such a stressful event, you may find it very hard to cope alone. If you feel awkward about asking, remind yourself you would do the same for them.

  1. Guard your thoughts about yourself. Challenge the negative ones. Replace them with good and positive thoughts and memories such as people who have expressed gratitude for your work and remembering the people who love and respect you and who believe in you.
  2. If you have a faith system now is the time to use it. Spend time with people who share your faith. Allow them to support you. You would do the same for them.
  3. You will probably find you keep thinking about what has happened and what might happen, to the point of utter weariness. Keep bringing your thoughts back to the present. ‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, today is a present’! Try this awareness exercise. Remind yourself where you are and what you are doing. Feel your feet touching the floor, your clothes coming into contact with various parts of your body. Acknowledge the information your five senses are giving you. Take some deep breaths, breathing out more slowly after each one. Check the position of your shoulders – let them relax down from your ears!
  4. Pace yourself and be kind to yourself because you are inevitably affected physically and mentally by what has happened. If you have become clinically depressed you must be especially careful not to judge yourself or be unkind to yourself.
  5. Have a structure to your day. Balance physical activities with the work you will have to do when preparing your defence etc.
  6. Keep regular times for meals and sleep to keep your body rhythms synchronised as much as possible.
  7. If you are having difficulty sleeping, make sure you are properly winding down before you go to bed so that you are in a more relaxed state. Avoid tea and coffee late at night. Try some herbal sleeping tablets. (If you are on any medication, check that it is safe to use.) If you wake in the night, get up, have a soothing drink of some sort, and read something uplifting or boring for a while before you try to get to sleep again. Try the awareness or remembering exercises if your mind is still very busy.
  8. If you are feeling sick all the time, try and eat small amounts of nourishing food and keep sipping water-based drinks to keep up a good fluid intake. Take some multi vitamins if you know your diet is poor at present.
  9. Keep busy some of the time. Cleaning out cupboards and drawers, decorating, sorting out the garden – are all activities that will make you feel you have achieved something with your day, even if it is just for one hour.
  10. Have exercise daily. Choose something that you enjoy. Perhaps you need to do it with others to keep in touch with people and the outside world.
  11. Try some creative activity such as writing, painting, sewing, photography, cooking, landscaping the garden, to name a few. Being creative may help you with your coping and healing.
  12. Go out to see someone each day. Contact with people is vital. Do you have a friend who daily walks their dog and who would enjoy your company? If you are a dog owner is there someone who would enjoy a walk with you and your dog? Could you go and help somewhere or someone for an hour?
  13. Try this remembering exercise. At the end of each day, before you fall asleep, remember the good things that have happened in the day and enjoy the memories of them. Some examples may be love and kindness shown to you, noticing a beautiful flower or smile, being able to accomplish something however small, the health to enjoy these things.
  14. There will be good days and not so good days, even bad days. Can you see a reason for this? Were you overtired? Have you been neglecting yourself? Do you need to talk to someone about what is happening to you? It may be very hard but the choice is yours. Only you can decide.
  15. It is very difficult to do, but forgive the people who have taken these actions against you for your own sake. Bitterness and resentment will damage you and make you ill. You have enough to cope with!

Other sources of help for survival

  • See your GP to let them know what is happening. If you don’t feel comfortable with your GP now is the time to find someone with whom you are comfortable. If your health suffers significantly, you will need the evidence of your GP to support what you are saying.
  •  Go and see a counsellor at the occupational health department to help you cope with the act of suspension. You may not find it very helpful but it is important to let as many people as possible understand what suspension is like so that there will gradually be a groundswell of opinion against it. There is also the very strong possibility that you do find it helpful to talk to someone outside the situation.
  • Elsie has recommended the following website for coping with the debilitating stress of your horrendous situation, to rest your mind when it keeps going round and round, with the same conversations in your head, wearing you out.  It has been written by Dr Danny Penman a qualified meditation teacher, writer and journalist, Professor Mark Williams Professor of Clinical Psychology and Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and Vidyamala Burch founder of Breathworks, an international mindfulness organisation. She developed Mindfulness-Based Pain Management – a proven way of relieving chronic pain and enhancing the body’s self-repair systems.

Another website on mindfulness with other resources as well is

Progress check

  • To check your progress, imagine your friend is going through this.
  • What advice would you give them for coping?
  • Are you doing it? If not, what can you improve?
  • Identify small changes and give yourself some of those rewards mentioned earlier.
  • Remember to be kind to yourself.