Managing mental health information with an employer is critical. Physicians are not required to communicate confidential health information to the employer unless they have specific consent from the patient. Only direct and clear information about the type and duration (temporary or permanent) of medically supported limitations and restrictions is required. Understanding employer-related issues promotes a successful return to work, although few workplaces have dedicated programs to support returning employees.
Employers have inconsistent policies and procedures about return to work following mental health disability. However, recent surveys (Canadian Psychiatric Research Foundation, 2007) show that employers agree on the following issues:
- The need to take early action
- The need to clarify a diagnosis of “stress”
- A preference to keep employees working to prevent estrangement
- Some willingness to be flexible with return-to-work arrangements
- The need to place limits on the amount of time off allowed