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Workers who take mental health leave more likely to have second episode sooner

September 03, 2019

"The workers' major symptoms may have subsided, but their ability to work may still be impaired due to memory loss or inability to focus," says Dr. Dewa. "The return-to-work forms that physicians fill out don't always ask about a person's functional abilities at work, just about medical symptoms. And workers may attribute symptoms such as memory loss or lack of focus to aging."

If a workers' ability to do their job is impaired, it could create resentment among their colleagues - and there is growing evidence to suggest social support, both within and outside the workplace, is important to prevent psychiatric disorders. This may explain, for example, why those with disrupted marriages relapsed sooner. Past research also shows a link between low social support and depression in women.

Finding the right balance of providing social support without intruding too much or violating a person's privacy is challenging, but possible, says Dr. Dewa. "Occupational health staff can provide support or just check in with workers who have had a previous disability leave. People like it when you genuinely care about the answer to, 'How are you?'"

Source: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health