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Returning to work after Mental Health Issues

Wed, 19 Sep 2018

Returning to Work after Mental Health Issues


So you have had some time off work with mental health issues. If it was a physical health issue, it is likely lots of colleagues knew about it. They may have sent you flowers or visited you whilst you were in hospital. They may have given you the odd call or email to check on your recovery. When you return to work, they want to know how you are and probably advise you to take it slow and ease yourself back into the hard yakka. You might openly discuss the medication you are on or the follow up support you are still getting from different professionals. Basically, people generally feel comfortable checking on you.

Now mention the words mental health and the game usually changes. Did you actually let others know why you were off work or did you keep it private? If you let other workers know, did they do the same things about contacting you and supporting you as they would have with a physical illness?

Did they welcome you back to work and let you know that you they were around to help?

Returning to work after time off with mental health issues is difficult for yourself (Were they talking about me? Will they be wondering if I am ok to be here?), your boss (How much support will I offer or how much pressure can they handle and your colleagues (Should I say something or will they think I am sticking my nose in their business?)

As one of the five scenarios topics covered in the Mental Health Response Box, NEXT STEPS is the folder which provides some simple questions and strategies to consider whether you are the worker who has been off, the boss or the colleague. It gives a simple framework of recovery which makes you realise that returning to work after any illness, mental or physical, has steps and the easiest thing to do is to treat them both is with clarity and understanding. Check out the NEXT STEPS folder in the Mental Health Response Box.