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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness
Work and mental health 

Developing and supporting a return to work plan

Help patients to understand the possible impacts on their work of their mental health problem, and how this might affect their return to work.

Returning to work after a period of sickness absence can be daunting for both employee and employer.  It is important to reinforce the key message that all the evidence shows returning to work can actually aid recovery.  The longer someone is out of the workplace, the more difficult it becomes for them to return to work and the less likely it is that they will return to work at all.  

It is not necessary, or realistic, that that your patient feels 100% fit before returning to the workplace.  It may mean that the return to work is done in a phased or staged fashion – just because returning to work is good for recovery, doesn’t mean this has to be straight back into full time work.  Nor does it mean that the work they return to is exactly the same in the nature of the tasks or the environment.  This links to and builds on the assessment you have made of the contribution that the workplace has made to your patient’s condition as part of the clinical assessment. 




Please note that we are unable to offer advice on individual cases. Please see our FAQ for advice on getting help.

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Work and mental health for clinicians

Work is a key clinical outcome

Working together to support people recovering from mental ill health at work

Developing and supporting a return to work plan