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Health Professional

This page is for General Practitioners and other medical specialists, health and organisational psychologists, counsellors, therapists and other health care professionals

Key messages

  • Health professionals have a crucial role especially with regard to psychological distress and 'stress' problems. They exercise an enormous influence during the treatment and recovery of their patients but their role in assessing fitness for work and facilitating return to work may be impeded by a limited knowledge of their patients' work and a lack of access to workplaces and managers. It is recognised that this is caused by a number of specific constraints on, for example, GPs' involvement in work issues and generally drawbacks in the current system. These are being addressed at Working for Health.
  • It is critical that everyone involved is working together – especially the health professional, the line manager and the human resource advisers. In this instance this means, inter alia, giving out the same messages of reassurance and expectation of recovery.
  • Clinically stress can be sometimes seen as difficult. There are divergent views as to what is appropriate – some health professionals regard stress as inevitable aspect of life and not a clinical condition warranting time off. The fact is, it could make people feel incapable of going about their normal day-to-day activities. There is little point in these circumstances to force a patient to work and thus potentially worsening their condition. So the main question is, will this condition warrant or benefit from a period off work?
  • Patient motivation and attitudes differ markedly. This needs to taken into account when discussing return to work options.
  • Case data from occupational physicians and psychiatrists (HSE THOR reporting scheme) show close agreement as to the main causes of work related stress.
  • Work related stress is not necessarily to do with individual vulnerability or predisposition – in this respect it differs somewhat from common mental health problems.

Your role in the Management Standards

Your role with individuals

Advice to patients could include:

Updated 2011-01-04