Unless you are superhuman, there are going to be moments throughout your professional life where things fall apart. Bereavement, divorce, illness, and work itself can have a catastrophic impact on our emotions and mental health. In these circumstances, we can be away from our jobs for months, even years. Whatever your situation, the day will hopefully come when you are ready to enter workplace again, and this can be petrifying. Being healthy enough and finding the inspiration and motivation is no easy task but, there are some fantastic ways in which the process can be made as comfortable and safe as possible
Focus on Encouragement and Support
Being off work due to mental illness will inevitably take its toll on your confidence and self-esteem. Trying to summon the motivation to get back to work can be like trying to draw blood from a stone. You may have received therapy sessions, which will have set you on the right track to re-enter the workplace, but there are also a number of charities set up which offer a range of support and advice. Mind, Rethink, and SANE are all valuable portals of self-help information, as are blogs and Twitter weekly chats.
One thing that can help spur some individuals on is attending a seminar or talk led by somebody who has overcome adversity, or the same mental health issues as you. These can often be found through charities, local support groups, or online.
Having a support network, no matter how big or small, can go a long way in helping you through the door on your first day, and the subsequent weeks that follow.
Talk to Colleagues Before Returning
Being open with your employer and colleagues can help them understand the new way in which you function, and everybody can be a part of a plan to help you adjust to coming back to work. Transparency helps those around you who have not had experience with mental health issues have a level of understanding as to why you may react in a certain way, or require certain things.
Paint a picture to your colleagues and senior staff as to how you are feeling, and what kind of person you are. Explain your personal symptoms; this will enable your colleagues to notice signs of you struggling and offer concrete help without being condescending. This can be uncomfortable, but do not suffer in silence. You will be surprised with the amount of people who come forward who have been in a similar situation to you.
Seek the Benefits of Your Job
Getting through the door on your first day can be the most daunting experience. Although it is very much a necessity, being away from work can actually be detrimental to health and wellbeing, and being offered a new job or your role being left vacant for your return, can give a real confidence boost.
Returning to work will help you feel a sense of identity and purpose, as well as a chance to rekindle friendships. Feeling part of a team and helping others can make you feel included and needed. Furthermore, with time off of work comes financial troubles, and your first pay cheque your receive will not only help improve your monetary situation, but your drive and motivation.
Take Your Time
Although we have covered some fantastic tips for returning to work after a period away, do not feel rushed. Even if you are keen to return to work, do it when you are 100 per cent ready. If it feels forced, delay your return. There is absolutely no shame in holding your hands up and admitting that you are not ready. Remember, your health is the most important factor, and taking the time to concentrate on yourself will result in a happy, motivated, and successful employ when you return.
Ignore the Medication Stigma
There is a huge stigma surrounding mental health and the medications used to treat those living with disorders. Although colleagues, friends, and family could not care less (in the nicest way possible) that you are taking medication to help your situation, often those with disorders can feel as though taking prescription drugs is something to be ashamed of.
Creating a new relationship with your medication will, behind closed doors, help you enter your work with a new-found confidence. Realising that prescriptions are given to help you gain control and remain healthy can abolish the resentment and embarrassment when you reach for the pill box.