The value of work for health and recovery

John, age 34, Australia

"So I was kind of looking through the paper at that stage and I decided I'd do a job that was, that I - that would use my strengths, because I really firmly believe that if you're doing a job that uses your strengths and that you're passionate about, you can actually come away energised from it, not weakened by it.

Carolyn*, aged 25, South Australia

I had a very severe bout of depression two times and the most important things about going back to work:

Gabrielle, aged 42, Australia

"I went – so this psychiatrist tried me on more medication, which helped me get into a sleeping pattern.

Mia*, aged 49, Victoria

"We also found out that my depression was caused by compounded grief and the area I was working in was not really for me although I was enjoying it.

Michael*, aged 33, WA

"A huge word of advice: when getting back to work take it easy!

Sonia*, aged 31, Victoria

"Work was my saving grace after recovering from my second bout of depression and anxiety.

A person does not have to be 100% well to return to work. Working has been shown to have a therapeutic affect upon mental illness, and can contribute to recovery.

In the great majority of cases, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

The benefits include:

  • helps to promote recovery and rehabilitation
  • improved financial situation, and thus, greater control over one’s life and choices
  • increases confidence and self-esteem
  • creates a feeling of contribution and social inclusion
  • a greater sense of identity and purpose
  • greater independence
  • improved general mental health
  • the opportunity to make friends

The Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Physicians, of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians has produced a consensus statement on the health benefits of work.