June 29, 2011 (Toronto) - The recurrence of an employee's medical leave of absence from work tends to happen much sooner with a mental health leave than a physical one, a Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) study shows.
Most workers who take a mental health leave from their jobs do not have another disability leave for at least two years, according to a new study from CAMH. In contrast, most who have had a physical health disability leave have almost four years before a second episode.
Mental health disability leaves cost approximately $51 billion a year in Canada in health care and work disruption costs, and those with a previous episode are at higher risk of having another one.
"If we understand the timing of a repeated episode, as well as who is at risk of having a recurrence, we can develop more effective prevention programs to help people stay at work," says Dr. Carolyn Dewa, study lead and head of CAMH's Centre for Research on Employment and Workplace Health. The study was published in the June issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
For their study, Dr. Dewa and colleagues looked at the records of a Canadian company with 13,000 employees from 2003 to 2006. Among this group, 3,593 employees had one or more disability leaves during this period. An episode was at least five continuous days off work related to a medical diagnosis.
Among all workers, 72 per cent who had a disability leave were still at work after a year. Those who were more likely to have a second episode sooner included women, maintenance workers and those with disrupted marriages.
"It's important to be aware that although workers who have had one mental health disability leave are at risk of having a recurrence, it doesn't happen immediately," added Dr. Dewa. "These workers want to be back at work, but unfortunately, sometimes supports to help maintain their health are not available." It is imp
|Contact: Michael Torres|
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health