Mental health example cases
You can support your employees’ work ability in many ways. This page features illustrative examples of how you can promote your employees’ work ability and help them return to work.
Example cases for supervisors
Matti is transferring to a new team at his workplace. The previous team suffered from a shortage of qualified personnel and Matti was only able to take the statutory two weeks of holiday during the summer. On his first day on the new team, Matti asks his supervisor whether he could take 1–2 weeks of holiday during the first month.
The supervisor says that it is important for Matti to be at work during the first month to learn the ropes. The supervisor says that they have a shortage of personnel, so Matti cannot take holidays just after having started working. Three weeks later, Matti ends up on sick leave because of stress symptoms.
The supervisor thinks that it would be important for Matti to work in the beginning, not only so he becomes familiar with the work but also to ensure that work runs smoothly. However, the supervisor wants to know why Matti wishes to take time off right away. Matti says that he has only had two weeks of holiday and that he is experiencing symptoms related to excessive workload, such as proneness to stress and sleep disorders. That is why he would like to take time off.
The supervisor agrees on a week of holiday with Matti and defers the orientation sessions to a later date. The supervisor and Matti also discuss other things, including the amount of work and whether it would be possible to work remotely. The supervisor meets with Matti right after the holiday to evaluate how Matti is coping and to plan when Matti could take the rest of his holiday.
Liisa’s workplace is working on an important project and the supervisor has encouraged everyone to complete the project by the end of the year. Everyone is putting in a lot of extra hours to complete the project. After weeks and weeks of working overtime, Liisa stress symptoms. In addition, Liisa’s mother has recently fallen ill and Liisa has two under school-aged children.
Liisa discusses her situation with her supervisor. She says that she is low in spirits and exhausted and that she does not feel she has the strength to work overtime. The supervisor encourages her to hang on in there until Christmas to get the project completed. Liisa is promised a reward for good work.
The project is completed by the turn of the year. However, Liisa and two other employees take a long sick leave due to symptoms of burnout and depression. Furthermore, some of the employees decide to change jobs.
The supervisor discusses things with Liisa and also strives to discuss with the other employees how they are coping. The supervisor sees that they are all struggling to cope. The supervisor asks another department for help to allow the employees to work less overtime. In addition, the workplace hires a retired former employee to work part-time until the end of the year.
The supervisor agrees with Liisa on a few days off, after which Liisa will no longer work overtime. The supervisor monitors through discussions how Liisa is coping at work. Some of the employees feel that they have the energy to work overtime, so they continue to perform work on the project. With some employees, an agreement is made that they will not work overtime. The supervisor regularly discusses the situation and the workload with the employees.
Jussi has been working at the same workplace and in a familiar team for a long time. A new employee joins the team and Jussi feels that they question his professional skills and competence. The new employee has asked about the indicators and software used in the work. Jussi does not know the indicators and software in question, so he interprets the questions as criticism of his competence. Jussi is currently going through a divorce, which has also taken its toll in the form of poor sleep and trouble coping.
ussi is irritable and does not say much at workplace meetings. Once the supervisor sees Jussi almost fall asleep during a meeting. The supervisor has heard that Jussi is going through a divorce. However, the supervisor prefers not to interfere with an experienced employee’s private life.
A few months later, the team’s employees tell the supervisor about the conflicts between Jussi and the new employee. For example, Jussi refuses to talk about work-related matters with the new employee. The supervisor sends the whole team an email, emphasising the importance of collaboration and teamwork. The supervisor says that they have scheduled a well-being at work day for the entire team in two months’ time. Before the well-being at work day, Jussi reports that he has taken two months of sick leave due to depression and is waiting to be admitted to the psychiatric outpatient clinic. Jussi’s sick leave lasts a total of 11 months due to moderate depression. The psychiatrist suggests a collaboration meeting with the occupational health services, since it is not likely that Jussi will be granted a cash rehabilitation benefit. Jussi says that he will not return to his old workplace because of the new employee.
The supervisor pays attention to Jussi’s irritability and the fact that Jussi almost falls asleep during a meeting. The supervisor schedules a discussion session with Jussi. Jussi tells the supervisor that he has trouble sleeping, he is in the middle of a divorce crisis and that, according to him, the new employee on the team has questioned his competence. Jussi feels useless both at home and at the workplace.
The supervisor tells Jussi that they value Jussi’s competence and that any workplace conflicts should be resolved at the workplace. The supervisor schedules a new discussion session with the new employee and Jussi. The new employee says that they value Jussi’s professional skills and it turns out that the dispute between Jussi and the new employee is essentially a misunderstanding. The supervisor also agrees with Jussi that he can receive training on new software going forward. The misunderstanding between Jussi and the new employee is cleared up.
The supervisor suggests that Jussi contact the occupational health services and says that they would be happy to participate in the meeting with the occupational health physician. Jussi is absent from work due to depression for three weeks, after which a work ability negotiation is held to agree on his return to work. Jussi’s work is temporarily accommodated so that it does not involve machine-paced work or customer interaction. The return to work is implemented based on partial sickness allowance, with Jussi working part-time for three months. After that, Jussi returns to full-time work, but his work has been accommodated. The supervisor discusses with Jussi how he is coping at work and makes sure that there are no more conflicts within the team. Jussi returns to his old job role after the summer holidays.
Milla has suffered from depression and an eating disorder in her youth. In recent years, she has been in good health and her work performance has been excellent. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Milla’s workplace quickly transitions to remote work.
A few weeks later, Milla seems absent-minded during remote meetings. She does not turn her camera on, and at times her behaviour is unusual for her. Sometimes Milla does not participate in meetings as agreed.
Milla’s situation is not addressed. Milla seeks help from the emergency services. The doctor prescribes her two months of sick leave and writes her a referral to specialised medical care, for which there is a waiting list of several months. Milla is diagnosed with depression and a substance abuse issue. She feels that she has failed and prefers not to talk about the issue with her supervisor or the occupational health physician. Milla is considering resigning from her job.
The supervisor agrees on a meeting with Milla with the cameras on. Milla says that she is in low spirits and that she is struggling to perform her work.
The supervisor agrees on weekly meetings with Milla. They also agree that Milla will make an appointment with the occupational health services and that the supervisor can participate in the meeting. Milla’s depression has recurred. She is absent from work for three weeks. After that, she returns to work on partial sickness allowance. Milla’s treatment is reinforced through brief intervention and medication in the occupational health services.
Jaakko has fallen ill with a severe mental disorder. His symptoms have improved to the extent that he is returning to his workplace through a work trial granted as vocational rehabilitation. Jaakko’s goal is to achieve partial work ability (at most 20 h of work per week), and the work trial’s planned duration is about six months. Jaakko initially works four hours a day three days per week and tries to increase the number of working days during the work trial. Jaakko’s work has been accommodated during the work trial to reduce time pressure.
Jaakko begins the work trial in summer. The workplace has a shortage of workforce and Jaakko’s monthly working hours are promptly increased to 30 hours. According to the supervisor, Jaakko’s performance is insufficient, and he stops working. Jaakko is collecting cash rehabilitation benefit, although his psychological symptoms have improved and the symptoms have not been activated during the work trial.
Jaakko works four hours a day three days per week for the first two months. During the work trial, the supervisor conducts follow-up meetings to discuss gradually increasing Jaakko’s working hours based on his health. At the end of the work trial, Jaakko increases his weekly workdays so that he works 20 hours per week. Jaakko transfers from the cash rehabilitation benefit to partial cash rehabilitation benefit and continues at his current workplace. Jaakko’s psychological symptoms improve. He finds it meaningful to be back at work and he receives support from his work community.