Tailored approach needed for return to work

Firms should pay attention to employees’ circumstances when coming back to the workplace following mental health issues, research reveals

Tailored approach needed for return to work

Employers should take greater account of an individual’s needs when planning their return to work following mental health issues, a study has found. 

The research from Tilburg University in the Netherlands and commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) called on businesses to pay attention to employees’ individual circumstances when returning to work, as this could achieve a more sustainable return and stop mental health problems becoming more severe. It found staff with mental health conditions on average returned to work within five months, but added that certain trajectories could lengthen or shorten this timeframe. 

Faster return to work trajectories were found among those with stress complaints and adjustment disorders, while staff with burnout showed slower trajectories. The study suggested timely interventions could prevent the development of more severe mental health problems and long return to work trajectories.  

Mary Ogungbeje, from IOSH, said the needs of those returning to work after  mental health problems was “likely to get even sharper focus over the coming weeks and months, of course, as employees worldwide re-enter the workplace after coronavirus lockdown”.