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21 June 2019

Fit notes for mental health

Mental health is about how we think, feel and behave. The most common mental health problems include anxiety and depression. Often, these are caused by a difficult life event such as bereavement but can also be due to work-related issues. Whether work is causing the issue or aggravating it, employers have a legal responsibility to help their employees.

Fit notes, also known as sick notes, doctor’s notes and med3s, are certificates used to notify your employer, teacher or person in charge that you’re not fit for work. Fit notes benefit employees by providing them with the time they need to get better, and they benefit employers by allowing them to make adjustments to their workplace to reduce sickness absence costs.

While many fit notes are used for physical conditions like having a bad back, they can also be used for mental health issues including depression, anxiety and work-related stress. In the UK, more than half a million people are off sick from work every 28 months due to anxiety and stress-related conditions.

Recent NHS figures show that as many as one in three fit notes is due to psychiatric problems, making them the most common reason for people to take time off work, ahead of musculoskeletal diseases. Between 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, there was a 14% rise in the number of sick notes issued relating to anxiety and stress.

To get a fit note for mental health problems, you will need to have a consultation with a GP. While self-certification is permitted if you have been off sick for less than seven days, you will need a signed letter from a GP if you are sick for longer than seven days. This includes days that you do not usually work such as weekends and bank holidays.

For more information on what sick notes can and cannot help with, read Medicspot’s in-depth Guide to Sick Notes. The guide has been co-authored by Dr Zubair Ahmed, GP and Founder of Medicspot, and Jenny Huelin, senior associate at BDB Pitmans. Topics covered in the guide include how to get a sick note, employment and support allowance and the rules around sick notes and pay.

Medicspot is one of the UK’s leading private GP providers, offering same-day appointments at over 200 clinics. Medicspot GPs can perform a comprehensive assessment of an employee’s physical and mental health and provide fit notes at no additional charge.

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