December 4, 2021

By Matt Gregory

Returning to work following any medical emergency can be daunting and difficult. But going back after suffering a mental health crisis can be even more challenging. Despite the progress that has been made in this area over the last few years, mental health remains something of a taboo subject. So going back into an environment where everyone probably knows why you have been absent for weeks or months may well make you feel uncomfortable.

It is natural to feel this way. The good news is that your employer will be there to help ease you in as you return to work. Your manager should be your first port of call for any support required. Such as flexible working days, support offered and any other reasonable adjustments that can be made.

For example, one such adjustment that could be made could be to move your start time back to later in the day, or working part-time hours, if any medication you are taking makes you feel groggy in the morning. Talking to your employer will help to ensure that all steps that can be taken, have been taken, prior to your return to the workplace.

How Long Should You Wait to go Back to Work?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It all comes down to personal circumstances. It is likely that your employer will ask to see a fit to work letter signed by a doctor. Therefore showing that you have been assessed and given the all clear to return to work.

Your employer may also insist on you taking a set time off if they feel that this will be beneficial to you. Ultimately, the decision comes down to you as no one knows your body better than yourself.

A mental health crisis is unlike any physical condition, whereby you can work to an almost definitive timeframe. With something like a broken leg, doctors and consultants could offer an estimate as to how long it will be until you get on your feet. They create a care plan consisting of rehabilitation and physiotherapy. In the case of mental health, it’s not as clear cut as waiting for scars to heal.

Even in the case of cancer treatment, patients can still work towards loose timeframes and work towards a return to work. Some even continue to work while receiving treatment.

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Health Insurance

The other thing to consider is that many health insurance providers do not cover mental health as standard. Despite the possibility of having to be signed off from work due to a mental health crisis. This could mean employees feeling the need to return to work before time due to the finances involved from losing money because they are unable to work. Depending on company policy, this could mean receiving the bare minimum in sick pay.

When taking out any health insurance, it is always worth making sure that mental health is covered. Especially if you or a member of your family has a history with poor mental health. While this may not cover all expenses or all the money you may lose from being unable to return to work. This will at least help with any medical bill that may come your way.

Don’t Expect Too Much of Yourself

When you are returning to work, don’t go in believing that you are going to hit the ground running. In all likelihood, you probably won’t and that is fine. It is going to take time for you to get back up to speed and there may well be bumps in the road.

Your returning to work represents a major step in your recovery. Take things one day at a time. Before you know it, it will be as though you were never away.

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