Support people to recover from a mental health condition by providing a positive and inclusive return to work experience.

What is Recovery?

Recovery involves returning to an optimal state of personal, social and emotional wellbeing as defined by each individual. This includes resting, healing and improving. There are different types of recovery; from the natural cycle of busy times that need time to recover from, to the type of recovery when there has been a crisis. They are both important. If we allow recovery from stressful times, we will have more resilience to face crises

Why does this matter?

Our physiology is built to cope with stress, and recovery is a critical part of healthy functioning. A lack of awareness of how to support recovery undermines this vital cycle and can hinder and at worse, stand in the way of a person making a good recovery.

What does this look like when it's managed well?

It looks like managers being close enough to their teams and themselves to see cycles of stress and proactively provide for recovery time such as time off or flexible hours. Recovery is also about supporting people after they have had a crisis or absence. Recovery is a continuum and is not black and white. It’s done well when leaders support their workers’ recovery, which might include an inclusive return to work experience, adjustments or organisational changes to accommodate new needs. It’s continuous learning and understanding to reduce the factors that lead to the need for recovery from crisis.

What does this look like when it's not managed well?

Leaders aren’t attuned to cycles of stress and therefore don’t cater for recovery, and if crises arise, there is little positive support to plan returning to work. Instead there could be pressure, or worse, exclusion, discrimination or stigmatising.


Ways to use this module

This module comprises a selection of resources to support recovery and returning to work after a physical or mental health related injury.

  • Watch the video as part of self care and recovery.
  • Use the quick reference guide to foster a supportive environment for people returning to work.
  • Check out the webinar on how to support someone with a mental health condition to remain at work.
How to help employees successfully return to work after an absence associated with a mental health condition.
Develop an individual recovery plan and wellness toolbox to support you to stay well.
Watch this video to support you on the road to recovery following trauma.
Refer to these guidelines to help manage a return to work after mental illness and foster an environment that supports mental health.
Use this flow chart to help manage return to work after mental illness.
Learn about the 8 steps in the return to work process so you can actively support staff who are injured or unwell to recover and return to work.
Author: Comcare
This toolkit aims to assist leaders to establish an empathetic work culture that supports recovery and belonging.
Author: Lifeline
Use this template to plan for an employee's return to work after time off for mental health challenges.


We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and waters and their knowledge of the places where we gather to collaborate and strengthen communities. In our work, we recognise the importance of Country, not just as a place, but how it also maintains community, family, kin, lore and language. We pay our respects to Elders past and present. This always was, always will be, Aboriginal land. We support the Uluru Statement from the Heart.


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