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How to tell colleagues I've returned to work?

(45 Posts)
Settlethewreckage Wed 13-Mar-19 13:21:42

Posting for traffic. I attempted suicide last year, and after a period of recovery I am now ready to return to work (go me! grin). My supervisors and higher ups want to announce my return by sending an email to the unit, and I would like that too. I'm just not sure what to say. I am quite open and would like to be honest about why I was off, but I'm lost as to how to phrase it!

When my supervisor asked me I just said "tried to die, but failed so thought 'might as well return to work'..." Can some of you lovely ladies please come up with something a little more 'appropriate'? blush

Bellasorellaa Wed 13-Mar-19 15:50:44

everyone so far given good advice just wanted to say stay strong, you are needed here and wanted flowers

7Pip Wed 13-Mar-19 15:39:21

Bear in mind that you're coming from an environment where you're surrounded by medical professionals who will encourage you to talk etc. And that is a safe place to talk.
Back in the workplace, I'm concerned that you're not quite prepared to return to a professional environment yet. There may also be silent judgment. You are entitled to privacy about your medical history. It's fantastic that your management are supportive.
However, I would not leave yourself open to public discussion or criticism.
The only thing that your colleagues need to know is that you are well enough to work. Nothing more, nothing less.
My advice to you would be to only discuss it with close colleagues and not publicly, by email or in face to face discussions.
Protect yourself.

Deathraystare Wed 13-Mar-19 15:32:13

So glad your attempt failed! Good luck on your return to work. I wouldn't put too much in the email about your illness. Some people will get obsessed and that is all they will talk about (and probably give their opinions too! If that is the case change the subject. You may be open about it now and ok at talking about it but after a while you will want to move on.

All the best!

TheOrigFV45 Wed 13-Mar-19 15:22:05

A PP asked whether the email was coming from you or from someone else. If it's not from you directly, then it's important it states that they have your agreement to send the frank explanation.

I am very glad to hear of your recovery

MummySharkBabyShark Wed 13-Mar-19 15:18:31


Congratulations on your recovery. flowers

Justheretogiveaviewfrommyworld Wed 13-Mar-19 15:16:12

I would say sometthing like:

Hi all, thanks so much for your support during a difficult time. Just a note to let you all know that I'm back and raring to go!

Looking forward to catching up on [return date]!

Settle smile

StellaRae Wed 13-Mar-19 15:04:45

Lots of good advice on here. Just wanted to say best of luck with your return to work!

7Pip Wed 13-Mar-19 14:56:38

Are you ready to put your professional hat on again OP? It can be a bit of a strain after a period off work.

GreenFingersWouldBeHandy Wed 13-Mar-19 14:53:33

@Settlethewreckage just wanted to say you have a really nice attitude towards being open about mental health.

Hope all goes really well with your return to work.

JustBloodyCold Wed 13-Mar-19 14:51:00

Honestly OP, I wouldn't make a joke. You don't know what other people are dealing with in their lives and it could seriously upset someone. For example, I work with someone whose DP has just tried to commit suicide. After a period in intensive care the DP has only a short time left to live now. A joke could be incredibly upsetting to someone in that position.

I'm glad you are recovered and back OP. I hope your return to work goes well!

jennymalone Wed 13-Mar-19 14:50:33

i'm glad you decided to avoid anything jokey OP.

not at all appropriate and would be a big trigger if someone else has been affected personally by similar issues/is being impacted by them (themselves, a loved one).

if you want to raise awareness/de-stigmatise it, there are better ways to do it in a work setting - participate in those. (e.g. mental health / wellbeing teams at work, HR initiatives, informal support networks, charity fund raising, serving as a mentor to a struggling colleague or something)

7Pip Wed 13-Mar-19 14:47:51

I would keep it utterly professional. A period out of the workplace can make you forget what that is.
I would simply say, 'I'm delighted to be returning to work after a long period of illness. I am now fully recovered and looking forward to working with the team again'.

Settlethewreckage Wed 13-Mar-19 14:42:05

Thanks for your input everyone smile I have constructed something that largely resonates with what you've all advised. I was not going to make a joke about it in my email, I'm naturally one of those 'laugh it off' people and when my boss asked I panickedblush

With regards to inviting discussion, I actually feel better when I know that people know. I am also quite active around mental health at work and feel passionate about paving the way for better treatment and recognition. I don't work in the same office as colleagues so I can escape any unpleasant convo a little easier grin

RomanyQueen1 Wed 13-Mar-19 14:39:46

I'm no good at writing but wanted to say congratulations on coming through what I know is a difficult time. thanks
All the best, and I'm so happy for you. x

christinarossetti19 Wed 13-Mar-19 14:39:41

Eg if someone has strong moral beliefs about suicide, it's not going to help either you or them talking about it at work.

MadameDD Wed 13-Mar-19 14:38:28

You don't actually need to say anything to anyone really!

If you want to say thanks for support - yes that's great but I certainly wouldn't be mentioning suicide or mental health issues in your email as this may upset people either suffering with those issues or who have friends/relatives who have gone through the same issues.

If colleagues come to you separately to speak to you about why you're off and you're open about this or want to make people aware of your issues then maybe a fundraiser for World Mental Health Day and/or World Suicide Prevention Day would be a good idea to suggest.

christinarossetti19 Wed 13-Mar-19 14:36:47

I agree bethy1. It's very easy to give away information about yourself, but you have no control over how others interpret it.

As a general email to everyone, I would just give the date that you'll be back say that you're looking forward to it and any other relevant info.

Then choose who you tell what and when as you go along. It's easier to adjust the gist of what you're telling someone if you can observe their reactions etc.

bethy15 Wed 13-Mar-19 14:27:43

I’ve been off work through depression. I am not embarrassed by it but doesn’t mean I want to talk to everyone about it. I pick and choose. Being open may become hard when you are on the 20th conversation that day with someone who thinks they are being kind by being interested but actually telling you about their or their families experience.

I'd agree with this entirely.

It's great to be open but do you want every single person knowing your business or some saying completely ignorant or inane things or presumptions, even saying crazy things like it's all in Jesus' hands (yes I've had people say such things).

I wouldn't want everyone knowing all of my business and have physical and mental health issues and I'm very selective as to who I say anything to as I've experienced too much utter ignorance for me to be wasting my time with. It can be exhausting and mentally draining when everyone has an opinion on your health.

Well done on your recovery to the point you're ready to go back to work. You're clearly doing really well with your recovery.

rumptifizzer Wed 13-Mar-19 14:26:01

As some of you may be aware I suffered terribly with a period of mental ill health last year which resulted in my absence from work in order to fully recover. I'm pleased to say I'm returning to work and looking forward to catching up with you all.

Lovemusic33 Wed 13-Mar-19 14:16:44

I wouldn’t make a joke out of it, there maybe others going through it now that don’t find it funny. I do think it’s good to be honest though so people realise that it doesn’t have to be a taboo subject.

Nesssie Wed 13-Mar-19 14:15:48

Definitely don't make jokes about it, not appropriate at all.

Boysey45 Wed 13-Mar-19 14:14:56

I'd just say I was unwell and now am better and looking forward to returning to work. Its nobody else's business why you were off apart from the managers.
I certainly wouldn't make a joke about anything to do with mental helath. There will be people there who suffer themselves and who have lost loved ones I bet as well.
Hope it all goes well for you.

ReanimatedSGB Wed 13-Mar-19 14:14:10

I also think that neutral language is better than jokes or too much detail. I appreciate that you may want to lessen the stigma around mental health but people wouldn't expect much detail from a colleague who was returning to work after gastric surgery or a breast enlargement, either - or any other physical ailment.

Best of luck.

GBroGal Wed 13-Mar-19 14:11:57

I would avoid joking about it - either in an email or in a conversation. You might be speaking to someone who has had someone close to them who did actually commit suicide.
Well done for getting back to work - I hope it goes well for you.

Springwalk Wed 13-Mar-19 14:10:43

Thank you for your well wishes and support in the last year, I am very excited to be able to return on xxxx l am very much forward to seeing you all.

I wouldn’t mention more than that, I wouldn’t invite people to discuss MH either. You may not be ready for that, going over it potentially over and over again.
Most people will just be very glad you are okay and back. Well done op!!! 💐💐💐

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