New research has emphasised the need for more tailored approaches in the return to work process for employees on sick leave due to poor mental health.
The study by Tilburg University in the Netherlands identified a range of trajectories that workers with mental health problems go through as part of their return to work – with some able to return quicker than others – and emphasised the need for more tailored approaches.
The research, commissioned by IOSH, suggests that attention to individual situations and conditions could not only help prevent mental health problems from becoming more severe but also help employees achieve a more sustainable return to the workplace.
The findings also stress the importance of giving hope and perspective to employees currently on sick leave with mental health problems. The study identified that individuals will benefit from more frequent communication with their employer and more joined-up support from employers, co-workers, stakeholders and the wider community. This includes tackling the stigma that can often be attached to mental health problems.
We need a greater understanding of the different ways individuals negotiate the return to work process, which is likely to get even sharper focus over the coming weeks and months
Globally, 12.8 billion working days of productivity are lost due to anxiety and depression, according to The Lancet Psychiatry.
'The imperative to better understand the individual needs of those returning to work after experiencing mental health problems is likely to get even sharper focus over the coming weeks and months, of course, as employees worldwide re-enter the workplace after coronavirus lockdown,' said IOSH research manager Mary Ogungbeje.
'Many of these workers will have been living with stress and social isolation as they worked at home, away from their ‘normal’ working environment.'
On #WorldMentalHealthDay, 10 October, join the first-ever global online advocacy event on #MentalHealth to be hosted by WHO.— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) October 9, 2020
⏲️ 16:00 CEST
📺 via WHO channels: @Twitter, @Facebook, @tiktok_us, @LinkedIn, @YouTube and @Twitch
The study was published ahead of World Mental Health Day, which takes place tomorrow. Organised by the World Health Organization, United for Global Mental Health and the World Federation for Mental Health, the day encourages organisations to provide greater investment and greater access to mental health provisions.
'It is expected that the need for mental health and psychosocial support will significantly increase in the coming months and years, which means investment in mental health programmes is now more important than ever,' said IOSH president Andrew Sharman.