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

The effect of medication on carrying out tasks at work

Some medicines affect people's balance or judgement, or can make them feel sleepy or tired.

The medication or treatment that your employee takes for their mental health condition may affect their ability to carry on doing certain types of work.  This is an issue you should discuss carefully with your employee and your occupational health advisor. 

Typically the sort of tasks you may need to look at changing due to the effect of medication are related to driving, working with machinery or working at heights since some medicines affect balance or judgement for example.  In addition, come medicines affect people’s ability to concentrate and may make people feel sleepy or tired. 

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) 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’ .  Although this information has been developed to help people with mental health conditions to talk to their doctor, it may provide questions which are helpful to employers when discussing the effect of medication with an employee.

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.