Health At Work
Occupational health mental health assessment
Occupational health consultants can conduct mental health assessments as part of an employee’s occupational health assessment. This allows employers to understand any mental health conditions an employee may have and make reasonable adjustments to support them in the workplace.
- Occupational health assessments cover both physical and mental health. Mental health is just as important as physical health when it comes to an employee’s ability to work. ¹
- Assessments are carried out by qualified occupational health professionals, including nurses, physiotherapists and occupational health physicians.
- The aim is to assess the employee’s current health, how their condition impacts their ability to do their job, and whether any workplace adjustments are needed.
- Mental health assessments are confidential between the employee and occupational health. The employer will only be told about recommended adjustments, not medical details.
Occupational health consultants
- Occupational health consultants are qualified health professionals who specialise in workplace health.
- They work with both employers and employees to promote wellbeing at work.
- Services include health assessments, fit to work assessments, advice on making reasonable adjustments, health surveillance, stress risk assessments and supporting absence management.
- Consultants must be registered with accredited bodies to ensure they meet the required standards. The main bodies are the Faculty of Occupational Medicine and the Society of Occupational Medicine.
- Occupational health consultants operate independently to give impartial advice to employers and staff.
Occupational health assessment depression
Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions. As part of an occupational health assessment, the consultant will assess how the employee’s depression impacts their work.
- They will ask about current symptoms – low mood, fatigue, loss of motivation, difficulty concentrating, etc.
- The severity of the depression will be assessed through clinical examination and validated screening tools such as the PHQ-9 questionnaire. ²
- They will also ask about treatment – such as medication or counselling.
- The assessment will explore how depression affects the employee’s ability to do their job and interact with colleagues.
- Recommendations may include reasonable adjustments to work duties or hours, regular breaks, or additional support.
Occupational health assessment questions for depression
Typical questions in an occupational health assessment for depression include:
How would you describe your mood over the last two weeks?
Have you been feeling down, depressed or hopeless?
Have you lost interest or pleasure in doing things?
How are your energy and motivation levels?
Are you having any issues with sleep or appetite?
Is your ability to concentrate or make decisions impacted?
Are your symptoms affecting your ability to do your job or interact with colleagues?
Are you currently receiving any treatment for your depression?
Occupational health assessment anxiety
Anxiety disorders like generalised anxiety, panic disorder and social anxiety are also common. The occupational health assessment will evaluate how anxiety impacts work.
- The consultant will ask about symptoms – restlessness, feeling tense, panic attacks, avoidance behaviours.
- They will assess the severity using screening tools like the GAD-7 questionnaire. ³
- They will also ask about any treatment the employee is receiving, e.g. CBT.
- The assessment covers how anxiety affects job performance and relationships at work.
- Recommendations may include changes to the role to avoid triggers, flexible working options, and more regular breaks.
Occupational health assessment questions for anxiety
Sample questions about anxiety in an occupational health assessment:
Do you experience feelings of worry, fear or panic? How often?
Can you describe the symptoms you experience, e.g. racing heart, dizziness?
Are there particular situations that trigger your anxiety, e.g. meetings?
How long have you had issues with anxiety?
Does it impact your ability to concentrate, make decisions or complete tasks?
Has your anxiety affected your relationships with colleagues?
Do you avoid any aspects of your job because of anxiety?
Are you accessing any counselling or treatments?
Overall, the aim is to fully understand the employee’s mental health condition and adequately assess what support or adjustments may help them stay in work or return to work after sickness absence.
- Employees’ support strategies for mental wellbeing during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic: Recommendations for employers in the UK workforce. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0285275 [Accessed 19 Sep. 2023].
- Simon Gilbody, David Richards and Michael Barkham. British Journal of General Practice 2007; 57 (541): 650-652. Diagnosing depression in primary care using self-completed instruments: UK validation of PHQ–9 and CORE–OM. Available at: https://bjgp.org/content/57/541/650.short [Accessed 19 Sep. 2023].
- Plummer, F., Manea, L., Trepel, D., & McMillan, D. (2016). Screening for anxiety disorders with the GAD-7 and GAD-2: A systematic review and diagnostic metaanalysis. General Hospital Psychiatry, 39, 24-31. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2015.11.005 [Accessed 19 Sep. 2023].