Introduction Changes in the pace of life, stresses at home and the drive to increase productivity and enhance performance in the workplace can all adversely affect the mental health of workers. Anyone suffering mental health issues will either become absent from work on sick leave, attend work but be far less effective, or may even leave their employment. Either way this is a cost to many businesses and one that is being recognised at government levels too. Organisations are now thinking about how mental health can be better managed and how workers can be rehabilitated while at work.
In most countries mental health is still a difficult topic for employees to discuss. They often feel that they may be accused of not being up to the task and are afraid of losing their job.
Session description The session will be delivered as a panel discussion. It will explore and reflect upon raising awareness, reducing stigmatisation, improving collaboration between professionals and implementing programmes for rehabilitation. Each speaker will give a short introductory presentation on their perspective on mental health in the workplace. This will be followed by a panel interview conducted by the session chair and include opportunity for questions to be asked from the audience.
IOSH research This session builds on recent research funded by IOSH into the ‘Barriers and facilitators of return to work after sick leave in workers with common mental health disorders’ (Joosen, et al). This study was completed in the Netherlands. Interviews were utilised to explore what occupational health professionals, mental health professionals, general practitioners, managers and workers saw as the barriers to and facilitators of work resumption by workers suffering from common mental disorders. The work includes reflection on the workers’ own perspectives on what had led to sickness absence.
The research identified four main areas for improvement:
The need for different agencies and professionals to collaborate more closely with each other when dealing with each case.
Personalise workers’ return to work support by focussing on their values, views and needs.
Support workers in gaining self-awareness and regaining control.
Improve manager’s skills and knowledge in guiding workers after suffering a common mental disorder.
This research embellished IOSH’s work in this area and is complimentary to its OH Toolkit, webinars and other information sources it has published. These tools are freely available and actively promoted to our members and wider audiences.
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