Welcoming Employees Back After Mental Health Leave

One in five Canadians will experience a mental health issue in their lives. For those going back to work after a mental health-related absence, the road to recovery doesn’t end with the return to work. Those who have been off experience low self-esteem, shame and isolation. Being afraid is a common state, with fear of being perceived as “weak” and fear of losing one’s job at the top of the list.

Re-entering the workforce after any absence does not imply that the employee will be functioning at optimum performance right away. According to a 2013 Conference Board of Canada report, “Depression in the Workplace: Insights from Employees and Supervisors,” two-thirds of employees returning to work after an absence due to depression have trouble concentrating, remembering things, making decisions and performing tasks — even if they are no longer depressed. The return to work can be a difficult time and going back to a toxic or too stressful work environment can set a person’s recovery back.

Employers who want to be informed and sensitive to potential pitfalls should consider the following three steps:

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Head shot of Bill Howatt
Bill Howatt
Bill Howatt is Chief of Research and Development, Workforce Productivity, at Morneau Shepell.