Some aspects of work can be truly terrifying for people. Perhaps one of the most worrying and anxiety inducing aspects of work is the return to work after leave. This return to work, however, can be even more intimidating if you’re returning after an episode of mental illness, such as depression or extreme anxiety. This post looks at ways in which you can manage this transition back to work, and feel confident to walk through those doors.

First of all, remember that you don’t have to be 100% better to return to work. Work is very beneficial, and it also offers a lot of social support for people. Don’t wait until you feel like you’re on top of the world before you decide to go back to work. You may not get better for a long time, and you may have to build up your coping strategies. Bearing that in mind, it’s important to remember that you should be getting back into work as soon as you possibly can, because being at work can have many benefits for you.

Get to your doctor and get a fitness for work certificate together. This will give advice to your employer about how best to accommodate you back at work, and can be invaluable. It can have even more value for you because it allows you to talk to your employer on the basis of what the doctor writes on the note. For example, the doctor will look at your current situation and make recommendations as regards your health and your return to work. If you are having medication for depression for example, you may feel sleepy in the mornings, and the doctor will recognise this. He or she will write on the notes some advice for your employer to be aware of when you return to work. If this helps you get into work quicker, rather than have days where you feel you have to defend yourself because you are a little bit late due to sleepiness, it is well worth having.  


The fitness for work note also advises the employer on any recommendations that the doctor has regarding the amount of work you do. If you’re suffering from anxiety for example, the doctor may suggest that you find somewhere in the workplace you can go that is quiet so that you can relax and avoid unnecessary stress. If you didn’t have the fitness for work certificate, then you would not be able to perhaps explain your need to your employer. The doctor can, so it is well worth having a fitness note.

Remember that, under the Equality Act, your employer has an obligation to make the workplace somewhere that is adaptable, and a positive place for you to work. This includes you returning to work after an illness such as depression, and the employer has to make reasonable adjustments.

Don’t think you have to be 100% to go back to work, and don’t think your employer will do nothing about your return. Everyone has a right to return to work, no matter what has happened to them or what they have been going through. Be confident, liaise with your doctor, and return to work positive and ready to go get on with things.

If you want to help managers to do this better, please contact me.

Chris Catt

The Enabled Entrepreneur

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