Employees who received this therapy and returned to work sooner did not suffer adverse effects and showed significant improvement in mental health over the course of one year, according to the article, published online in APA’s Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.
“People with depression or anxiety may take a lot of sick leave to address their problems,” said the study’s 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, conducted in the Netherlands, followed 168 employees, of whom 60 percent were women, on sick leave due to psychological problems such as anxiety, adjustment disorder and minor depression. Seventy-nine employees from a variety of jobs received standard, evidence-based cognitive-behavioral therapy, while the rest received cognitive-behavioral therapy that included a focus on work and the process of returning to work.