Research reports
Research reports

Returning to work after common mental health problems

This report is among a series of resources available to non-IOSH members. These are mapped to our competency framework to support your learning and development.

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The Return to work after common mental disorders - barriers and facilitators - full report below aligns to the following competencies:

  • human capital: lead and innovate levels
  • organisational culture: lead level
  • occupational health and wellbeing: innovate level.

The Return to work trajectories among employees with mental health problems - full report below aligns to the following competencies: 

  • human capital: innovate level
  • vulnerable workers: innovate level.

Return to work trajectories among employees with mental health problems ​

Workers’ mental health problems has called on employers to take greater account of an individual’s needs when planning their return to work.

Researchers from Tilburg University, in the Netherlands, conducted the study to gain a better understanding of individual variability in the return to work process for employees on sick leave due to poor mental health.

Having 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 - the study emphasises the need for more tailored approaches.

Such attention to individual situations and conditions, the research suggests, could not only help prevent mental health problems from becoming more severe but also help employees achieve a more sustainable return to the workplace.

Have a read of the full report and summary report below on the findings and the key learning points of Return to work trajectories among employees with mental health problems.

Take a look at a recent IOSH webinar: Sustainable return to work in mental health issues; what works for whom? which shares recent research results on the topic of sustainable return to work following absence due to mental health conditions. Webinar presentation and resources:

Return to work after common mental disorders

Perspectives of workers, mental health professionals, occupational health professionals, general physicians and managers

Common mental disorders (CMDs), such as anxiety, stress and depression, are among the leading causes of disability worldwide and have a major impact in terms of lost productivity and sickness absence. Returning to work is a complex process in which different stakeholders may be involved and have to co-operate.

This report discusses the return-to-work process of workers on sick leave with CMDs, and the barriers and facilitators from a multi-stakeholder perspective, ie workers, managers, mental health professionals, occupational health professionals and general physicians.

This research was undertaken by Tilburg University.

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