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Symposium to discuss supporting employees returning after mental health absences

Friday 31st May 2019
Members of the BPS will lead a symposium to determine how best to support people returning to work after a mental health absence.
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Mental health conditions surrounding work are common. Stress, anxiety and depression are all frequently cited as reasons to take time off work, with one in six UK employees being affected by one or more of these. In total, 1.6 million employees report having to deal with a mental health issue at work each year.

One of the hardest times for these employees is returning to work after taking a leave of absence due to mental health. To work out how best to deal with this, the British Psychological Society (BPS) is leading a symposium at the European Association for Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP) 2019 congress in Turin on this subject.

Currently, Individual Placement and Support (IPS) services are commonly utilised to help people return to work if they have a severe mental health condition. However, this system has been found to have several flaws, with workers finding it hard to remain in their jobs on an ongoing basis after returning.

The BPS has analysed the current available research and found there is little support available for the crucial period of returning to work. Most resources available to both organisations and the affected employees only deals with the actual period of absence, not the period afterwards.

To tackle this, the BPS will make several recommendations ar EAWOP. One of these is that line managers should offer support and necessary adjustments in the long-run, rather than just in the immediate period after an employee returns from an absence.

In addition, workplaces should be more responsible for promoting self-care in employees. This could include guidance on exercising and healthy eating, both of which have been shown to improve overall mental health. In this way, workers would feel more able to return to their jobs and ideally be able to better deal with their conditions.

Written by Angela Newbury

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