Staying in work

When you have mental health and/or addiction problems, keeping your job – or going back to it after time off on sick leave – can be a struggle.

Your manager may be helpful, but if they are not, what can you do to stay in work? And where can you get support?

The most important thing to do is to talk to someone. Keeping your difficulties to yourself won’t help. If you feel you can’t talk to your manager, speak to your employment specialist, if you have one, or your care co-ordinator, occupational therapist or to Occupational Health.

You can also get free, confidential support from the Remploy Mental Health Access to Work service as part of the Government’s Access to Work service (telephone 0345 2688 489).

When accessing support you can discuss issues such as:

  • When and how the problem started
  • How you feel about it
  • Any warnings or disciplinary procedures
  • When you feel you can go back to work, if you are signed off

What your employment specialist or other supporters can do:

  • Talk to your HR department,  union representative or  supervisor
  • Observe your performance in the workplace and suggest strategies to support you
  • Identify workplace difficulties and strategies to over-come them
  • Discuss with you what to do and agree an action plan

Once they have the full picture, they can meet your manager to discuss a return to work plan, or solutions to help you stay in work, such as:

  • Coming back to work part-time and building up your hours gradually
  • Cutting down your more stressful responsibilities or tasks in the short term
  • Having a colleague as your mentor or buddy
  • Rest breaks and relaxation strategies
  • Extra training or support with tasks you find challenging

They can also ask for any disciplinary procedures to be halted. They may explain the symptoms of your illness or the behaviours it can cause and they can help your manager to understand mental health at work. Did you know that one in six people in work are affected by a mental health condition at any one time?

It is  worth remembering that employers do  not want to lose staff and that poor mental wellbeing at work costs them money. It is in their interests to support you and ensure they have a healthy and productive workforce.

You can find out more at:

Remploy

Mental Health Employment Portal,  which has links to many useful documents

Rethink, with information about working and mental health

The Centre for Mental Health, which also has a PDF with information on effective job retention services

An academic paper, Common mental health problems at work, from the Centre for Mental Health