Developing an e-mental health program for workplace MDE

Background: Common mental disorders (CMDs) such as depressive and anxiety disorders are highly prevalent in the working populations and are associated with long-term sickness absence and poor work functioning. In Canada, mental disorders accounted for over 30% of short- and long-term disability claims. As such, interventions enhancing return to work (RTW) among workers with a CMD, therefore, have significant public health and economic implications.


Enhancing fast and sustained RTW also has important clinical implication. Individuals with depressive and/or anxiety disorder account for a large proportion of patients in psychiatric hospitals. RTW is a goal for workers who are absent from their job, as they want to avoid negative consequences, such as prolonged work disability and loss of earnings. However, it is very challenging to achieve fast and sustained RTW because RTW is influenced by many factors including timely access to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and occupational therapy to restore occupational functioning, self-efficacy and readiness to RTW. CBT is a proven effective therapy for mental health problems. However, there is lack of access to CBT in the community and at the Royal hospital. The lack of access contributes to: 1) prolonged waiting time for CBT and mental health and 2) delayed symptom reduction and recovery, which often result in sub-optimal care and frustration by patients and health professionals. With this proposal, we request funds to develop a web-based mental health program to facilitate fast and sustained RTW. This program will be an ideal supplement to the mental health service, offering a unique opportunity for meeting the clients’ needs and addressing the service gap.



  • To understand the barriers and facilitators for fast and sustained RTW among individuals with a mood or anxiety disorder.
  • To develop a web-based mental health program for facilitating fast and sustained RTW among patients treated for depressive and anxiety disorders. The program will include work-focused CBT with the feature of assistance by trained professionals.
  • To train professionals to deliver CBT and PST over the telephone.
  • To conduct a pilot randomized controlled trial to gain a preliminary understanding about the effectiveness of the web-based program on RTW.

Funding source: Ontario Medical Association


Status: completed.


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