Monday, 18 March 2013

Request For Links and Resources on Returning to Work for Barry

I've been approached by Barry (not his real name) to ask the community for any help.

Barry has been on medical leave from his academic job due to depression, and is starting to worry about going back to work, especially because the stress of the teaching and other academic activities seemed to contribute to him being too sick to carry on.

Barry wrote: "The reason I'm writing this is that I'm wondering whether you know of any standards or guidelines for return-to-work accommodation for mentally disabled academics."  (Note that "accommodation" here does not mean somewhere to live, but allowances such as reducing teaching load or similar.)  

Obviously if anybody has any pointers, please comment or if you prefer send to us to pass on anonymously or not as you wish.

A couple of closing thoughts.

Barry didn't explicitly ask but people might have their own personal stories and they might be of value.  In fact, that is what this blog is largely about: in fact I am very conscious that we are not well placed to give advice as non-medics. A personal story is just that, a story.

I do know who Barry is and from a quick Google I have to say I admire some of the things he's done. Another example of both sides of the academic/depressive story: you can do high impact and important work while depressed; and the fact that you can do it doesn't stop you being vulnerable to serious depression.

Good luck Barry!
p.s. I wanted to use a name and gender to make writing easier. To avoid confusion I just used the first name and gender from the list of hurricane names for 2013. I tossed a coin to decide man or woman, and the first male in 2013 was Barry.  From now on, the next few pseudonyms will be  Chantal, Dorian, Erin, and so on.

Update: 21 March

Here are some relevant links at least for some English speaking countries where it was easy for me to search.   Even if Barry lives in one of these I don't know if they will be relevant or helpful, but I wanted to put them up also for everyone.   I should mention though that these are all general, not in any way related to academia.  Of course Universities and similar are large enough organisation that they will always be required to obey these rules and should have staff whose job it is to implement them.

In general terms, the themes seem to be that employers must make "reasonable adjustments" or "reasonable accommodations" for mentally disabled staff, and it seems like that should include people returning to work.   


  1. If Barry is swedish, he has rights to reduced workload and rehabilitation to help him get back to work slowly. He should probably ask Försäkringskassan or Arbetsförmedlingen how this is done.

    If Barry is not swedish, then I don't know.

  2. Helena, Thanks very much for the reply.

    It's good to know of these resources in any country, since that could be of help for people in that country reading this. Also it might be of help to know there is support in other countries.


  3. Here's some information about returning to work in the UK. For example "Under the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) and the Equality Act (2010), your employer has a legal duty to make "reasonable adjustments" to your work."


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