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

Medication and the workplace

Advising employees and employers on the effect of medication on carrying out tasks at work

When you prescribe medication for your patient, it is always worth checking that s/he understands the possible effect this may have on his/her ability to carry on doing certain types of work. It is also worth looking at treatments which may help your patient to manage the symptoms which may have a great impact on his/her ability to function at work, such as assistance with sleeplessness.

Typically the sort of tasks you may need to discuss changing due to the effect of medication are related to driving, working with machinery or working at heights where medication affects balance or judgement for example. In addition, it is worth reminding employees and employers that some medicines affect people’s ability to concentrate and may make people feel sleepy or tired. The right ‘reasonable adjustments’ to working patterns, tasks and conditions need to be developed taking the effect of medication into account.

Applicants of drivers licence holders must inform the Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) of any condition that may affect their ability to drive safely.

Links to resources:

The Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA).

Information for medical professionals

This part of the DVLA website includes links to the latest information on the medical standards of fitness to drive.

The DVLA requires applicants or drivers licence holders to inform them of any condition that may affect a person’s ability to drive safely. This links to information on specific medical conditions which may affect driving and to the section with information on what happens after the DVLA is informed about a medical condition.

Royal College of Psychiatrists – mental health information

The mental health information section has lots of readable well researched information about treatments for mental ill-health. The information leaflets include explanations of how different medicines work, how long they may take to have an effect, what tasks the medicine may affect your ability to carry out.

Mental Health Foundation

This section on medication for mental health problems includes a section called ‘Questions to ask’ to help patients when talking to their doctor. You may find that these are useful prompts for both you and your patient.


Rethink has a summary of the possible effects that common types of medicines can have. Rethink have also produced a report called ‘Side Effects’ which is available to download. This is based on the ‘real-life’ experiences of mental health service users.


MIND has information on medical and alternative treatments. Each booklet or factsheet contains information on side effects.

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)

Taking medicines - some questions & answers about side effects is a leaflet produced by the MHRA for the public.

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