Mental health and psychiatric disorders

Richard Heron and Neil Greenberg

in Fitness for Work

Fifth edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199643240
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191755668 | DOI:

Series: Landmark Papers

Mental health and psychiatric disorders

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  • Occupational Medicine
  • Public Health and Epidemiology
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Psychiatry


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The aim of this chapter is to consider how work and mental health interrelate and how employers can ensure the mental health needs of their workforce are dealt with appropriately to maximize opportunities for productivity and minimize psychological morbidity. The chapter will follow a preventative medicine format by considering primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of mental health disorders at work. Primary prevention equates to the prevention of mental ill health within a workforce and working environment; it is the responsibility of line managers and organizational policies and procedures. They may be advised by occupational health professionals who have a role to play in assuring the content of such policies and practices, and raising awareness about them. Secondary prevention refers to the early identification of the warning signs likely to indicate that mental health problems will develop. Early identification allows for either the prevention of progression of a disorder through management interventions or to ensure that personnel receive early treatment leading to a rapid return to occupational effectiveness which may involve healthcare professionals in some cases. Tertiary prevention refers to treatment and recovery which aims to prevent longer-term disability in those who have a diagnosed mental health disorder. Whilst is it beneficial for line managers to support tertiary prevention interventions, the responsibility for delivering them is likely to rest with healthcare professionals.

Chapter.  13053 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Occupational Medicine ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Occupational Therapy ; Psychiatry

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