WMA-January-22-927 AM-1

How do Independent Psychiatric Evaluations Help a Return to Work?

Jan 31, 2019

  • Employees suffering psychiatric issues may have just as strong an effect on the company’s productivity as do physical injuries
  • It can be difficult to identify these conditions before something goes wrong
  • When you need clear understanding of what’s going on, independent medical advice is crucial

Just as physical injury or illness can prevent an employee from working a particular job that they previously excelled at, so too can psychiatric issues obstruct the normal process of working. 

Exactly what accommodations, limitations or restrictions might be appropriate for an employee and for how long are difficult questions for employers to grapple with — especially as their absence or lowered capacity may be hitting the bottom line.

How Employees are Affected by Psychiatric Issues in the Workplace

The repercussions of psychiatric illness in the workplace can take many forms. Some may be relatively simple to accommodate. But other times, your employee may genuinely be unable to perform the work you need them to do as they recover. And of course, identifying the issue in the first place may be half the battle. You should always watch out for the following signs:

  • Significant personality changes over time
  • Emotional lability
  • Withdrawn or aggressive behaviour
  • Frequent absences or lateness
  • Unusual mistakes
  • A decline in ability or willingness to work with colleagues
  • Decreased productivity or low morale

There are many other observations that could indicate some underlying psychiatric issue, but the key thing is that the changes you’re noticing are sustained or part of a pattern — not just the possible result of a bad day or a bad week.

The Repercussions on Work

When an employee suffering from a mental illness is present at work, they are often not performing well. Depending on the job, there could well be a safety issue as well. Many psychiatric issues have impairing effects on employees which increase the occurrence of mistakes.

In other roles that require strong communication skills, they may be unable to deliver what is required of them. Generally, these employees will be less reliable and productive than they normally are, and that can have an effect throughout your whole workforce.

At the same time, they may be reluctant to seek help and time off work. And when they do? It’s established that the longer an employee is off work for medical reasons, the lower the chance of them ever returning to work.

How an Independent Psychiatric Assessment Helps

If you’ve got an employee unable to work citing mental health issues, you obviously want them to get better. But you also may find you’re forced to operate with unclear or incomplete information. At the end of the day, you’ve got to plan for covering their absence and easing them back into the team, and every uncertainty makes this more difficult.

If that’s the difficulty you’re having, you may want to consider obtaining an Independent Psychiatric Assessment. This will allow you the chance to fill in some gaps in your understanding of the situation and gain some assurance that everything’s on the right track.

By paring your employee with a relevant, experienced psychiatrist, you can be sure that you’re doing your due diligence and giving the employee the best chance of a healthy recovery. You’ll be able to use the information to plan with more certainty and limit the impact of the absence.

The IME report can be a most useful treatment guide for the GP to consider implementing, especially as accessing a psychiatric referral in the public health care system can take many months by which time to problem can be more resistant to appropriate therapy.

Is Distance the Problem? Try A TelePsych IME

When travel, location, or even just time is an issue, remote telepsychiatry is fully capable of obtaining a trustworthy diagnosis and assessment. With totally secure video call technology now widely available, this service is now easier than ever. And the inconvenience and cost of travel is eliminated, especially in remote locations in the winter.

Your TelePsych partner? Make it Western Medical Assessments. We’ve got decades of experience in tough return to work issues and pride ourselves on matching the right expert with the right employee. Our vast network of medical professionals has helped countless employers understand their position and facilitate effective, safe, returns to work.

Want to get started? You can check out our page just for employers here or give our Medical Director Dr. Roger Hodkinson a call at 780.433.1191. He’s always available for a quick no-obligation chat with employers looking for medical solutions to workplace issues. 

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