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Navigating Mental Health Challenges in Occupational Rehabilitation

In the contemporary workspace, the importance of mental wellbeing is increasingly recognised as pivotal for both individual and organisational health. Altius Group, a leader in integrated workplace health and wellbeing, is at the forefront of this paradigm, providing holistic health solutions that encapsulate addressing mental health as part of physical recovery in occupational rehabilitation.

Understanding Occupational Rehabilitation and Its Importance

What is Occupational Rehabilitation? Defining the Process

Occupational rehabilitation is a client-centred approach focused on restoring an individual's ability to participate in work after an injury or illness. It encloses a spectrum of services and interventions designed to not only address the physical aspects of workplace injuries but also acknowledge the psychosocial factors impacting an individual's return to work.

The Role of Occupational Rehabilitation Providers in Return-to-Work Plans

Occupational rehabilitation providers are the backbone of orchestrating successful return-to-work strategies. They collaborate between the employee, employer, insurer, and healthcare professionals to ensure a cohesive and supportive return to the workplace. By understanding the unique needs and capabilities of the individual, as well as the demands and dynamics of the workplace, these providers can craft return-to-work plans that are both realistic and supportive, paving the way for a sustainable and meaningful reintegration into the work environment.

The Intersection of Mental Health and Occupational Rehabilitation

Recovery is not solely about physical healing but is profoundly influenced by the individual's mental state. Positive mental health can significantly enhance recovery, fostering resilience, motivation, and a forward-looking attitude. Conversely, untreated mental health issues or crises can hinder recovery, potentially leading to prolonged absence and even withdrawal from the workforce.

Identifying Mental Health Challenges in Occupational Rehabilitation

Challenges When Returning to the Same Employer

Returning to a familiar workplace post-injury or illness can create uncertainty.

Jackson Foley, a Vocational Consultant and Provisional Psychologist at Altius Group, observes that a common hurdle is the perceived lack of employer support.

“The biggest thing I tend to see when workers return to their pre-injury role is feeling a lack of support from their employers to aid this return in a safe and durable manner,” Mr Foley shared.

This perception could lead to feelings of overwhelm and manifest in different ways.

He further explained: “Often, workers are quite anxious to return to the work environment for the first time since submission of their claim, and this tends to manifest as heightened stress and worry, nervousness that their injury will exacerbate, and sometimes avoidant behaviours.”

A collaborative approach, where employers actively engage with occupational rehabilitation professionals and the worker, is crucial. Such an approach nurtures the worker's mental health and strengthens their productivity and interpersonal dynamics at work.

Challenges When Return to The Pre-Injury Employer Isn't Feasible

Starting a new job can cause a mixture of excitement and nervousness, especially if it's in a field different from past positions.

“I see a lot of workers tend to experience nervousness, worry, and a ‘fear of the unknown’ when commencing new employment, particularly if it is within an area vastly different to their pre-injury role,” Mr Foley noted.

Here, the role of supportive employers is paramount.

Mr Foley encourages employers “to be aware of the above challenges and ensure support is provided for their transition to this new work environment.”

From seeking and getting a new job to ensuring a smooth transition, all in concert with occupational rehabilitation can mitigate the risk of prolonged recovery, symptom escalation, and potential re-injury.

Strategies Employed by Occupational Rehabilitation Consultants at Altius Group

Altius Group and Rehabilitation Services by Altius stand at the forefront of occupational rehabilitation, committed to offering a suite of services designed to address the needs of individuals facing workplace injuries and the mental health challenges that can arise.

1. Tailoring Return-to-Work Plans for Mental Health Considerations

In the intricate landscape of occupational rehabilitation, the journey of recovery is often as unique as the individuals embarking on it. Altius Group acknowledges this diversity, embracing the complex interplay of injuries, individual circumstances, work and home environments, relationships, and personal injury schemes. The tailored holistic plan ensures that every facet of the client’s rehabilitation needs, including the physical, medical, psychological, and social complexities, is addressed, paving the way for optimal and timely return to work.

Guided by the belief that work and independence are integral to wellbeing, Altius Group's Rehabilitation Services are designed to ensure a recovery and a pathway to sustained wellbeing and independence.

2. Wellbeing Coaching and Program Delivery

Recognising the pivotal role of mental wellbeing in the return-to-work process, Altius Group offers a suite of Wellbeing Services. As an integrated hub of medical and allied health specialists, the organisation is positioned to provide holistic support tailored to the distinct wellbeing issues impacting employees.
  • Customised Wellbeing Solutions: Services are tailored based on a deep understanding of the specific wellbeing challenges faced by the employee.
  • Flexible Delivery: Support is provided in a manner that seamlessly fits into the business operations, whether face-to-face or virtually.
  • AltiusLife Digital Platform*: Employees can gain access to a wealth of resources and support through the innovative AltiusLife platform, further enriching their wellbeing journey. *(This is only available if you are an Altius Group customer.)

3. Revive Your Mindset Program

The Revive Your Mindset Program stands as a testament to Altius Group's dedication to breaking down psychological barriers and fostering a positive, resilient mindset. This program is particularly geared towards individuals detached from their jobs due to long-term recovery or significant changes in their work lives. Delivered by seasoned professionals from diverse backgrounds, including occupational consultants and motivational coaches, the program is structured around impactful modules that drive meaningful change.

Key elements of the Revive Your Mindset Program include:

  • Psychological Barrier Breakdown: Addressing recurring negative thought patterns and attitudes to foster a positive and proactive mindset.
  • Resilience Building: Empowering participants to build resilience, equipping them to handle recovery challenges and job search rejections effectively.
  • Vocational Goal Setting: Encouraging participants to set and pursue vocational goals, paving the way for a successful return to meaningful work.
  • Evidence-Based Learning: The program is grounded in extensive theoretical evidence and adult learning principles, ensuring participants learn and apply healthy thinking patterns in their personal and professional lives.
Are you or your employees facing mental health challenges in navigating their recovery while working? Connect with our expert occupational rehabilitation consultants at Altius Group for tailored support and guidance using a holistic approach. Let's work together for an optimal, timely recovery of your team. Call Altius Group on 1800 258 487 or contact us online to learn more.

Let's overcome your health challenges