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Work-related therapy gets people back on the job

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When employees on sick leave due to depression go to therapy with a goal of exploring work related stresses and developing a return-to-plan, they are more likely to get back to work sooner. According to new research, they do not suffer adverse effects and showed significant improvement in mental health over the course of a year.

“People with depression or anxiety may take a lot of sick leave to address their problems,” according to the lead author Suzanne Lagerveld, of the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO). “However, focusing on how to return to work is not a standard part of therapy. This study shows that integrating return-to-work strategies into therapy leads to less time out of work with little to no compromise in people’s psychological well-being over the course of one year.”

The study followed 168 employees in the Netherlands. About a third received standard cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and the balance received CBT with a focus on work and the process of returning to the job.

While the CBT worked to some degree for everybody, those in the work-focused group returned to work 65 days earlier than the standard therapy group.

“Being out of work has a direct effect on people’s well-being. Those who are unable to participate in work lose a valuable source of social support and interpersonal contacts,” explained Lagerveld. “They might lose part of their income and consequently tend to develop even more psychological symptoms. We’ve demonstrated that employees on sick leave with mental disorders can benefit from interventions that enable them to return to work.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology

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