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

Preparing to return to work after a period of mental ill health

Think about talking to your employer and doctors to make a ‘return to work’ plan

Returning to work after being on sick leave can be daunting.  A Wellness and Recovery Plan (WRAP) should make it easier.  Even if you haven’t got a WRAP, then some of the practical arrangements and tools in the WRAP approach can be helpful. Organisations, such as the Health and Safety Executive, have checklists to work through with your employer and healthcare professionals to make it easier to get back to work.


Your employer can help you back to work by bringing you up to speed on what has been happening while you have been away. You will need to think about what you tell your colleagues and clients about your absence and any changes to your work. 


The first stage in developing a return to work plan is to maintain contact while on sick leave

Returning to work can help you to recover from a period of mental ill-health.  You may need to work part-time at first, before re-starting full-time work.  It might also mean making changes or adjustments to your work, working conditions and work pattern. 

It is helpful to keep in touch with your employer while you are away.  Some managers, as well as employees, worry that such contact during a period of sick leave will be seen as harassment, but lack of contact can make returning to work even more difficult.  It is best if you take the lead in contacting your manager.  You need to agree what form this contact should take, and how often it will take place.

Please note that we are unable to offer advice on individual cases. Please see our FAQ for advice on getting help.

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