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Returning to work can aid the recovery of those with mental health problems

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People with mental health problems do not have to be completely recovered to return to work as getting back into their job can aid recovery, according to a new report from the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health.

People with depression and anxiety should be offered specialist support to return to work as well as psychological therapy, according to a research review conducted by Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health and published with support from the British Occupational Health Research Foundation.

Common Mental Health Problems at Work by Linda Seymour, examines recent international research evidence on how to help people with depression and anxiety to stay in work or to return after a period of ill health.

The review found expert, third-party employment advice can be as important as psychological therapy in helping people remain in work and get back to work quickly after sickness absence and that both are needed to achieve success.

It also revealed that the response of supervisors and line managers when a person becomes unwell can have a big impact on their chances of staying at work.

Linda Seymour, Sainsbury Centre head of policy, said: "Our review has shown that people with common mental health problems can return successfully to work before they are completely recovered. But many need support from expert employment advisers as well as timely access to psychological therapy and a good GP.

"Existing research has shown that work is good for our health and that too many people lose their jobs as a result of mental ill health. We need to ensure that alongside the new ‘fit note’ that enables GPs to comment on what people can do as well as what they can’t, and the new Government’s continuing commitment to improving access to psychological therapy, good quality employment advice is provided to both employees and employers."