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Meaningful support for safe return to work

Published on: June 16, 2021

For almost two decades, Dr. Renée-Louise Franche has been a leader in mental health and return-to-work (RTW) research. Over her career, she’s supported front-line RTW partners, health care providers, and policy makers in ensuring that a worker’s re-entry into the workforce after an injury is as safe, sustainable, and meaningful as possible. Dr. Franche’s previous research led to the development of best practices for successful return to work, which have been adopted by numerous workers’ compensation systems.

Since joining WorkSafeBC in 2012, Dr. Franche’s remained committed to taking an evidence-based approach in her work. In her role as senior manager on WorkSafeBC’s Mental Health Services team, she specializes in improving healthy and safe RTW outcomes for injured workers in B.C. and focuses on bridging the gap between scientific knowledge and practice.

“Work is central to our identity,” says Dr. Franche. “When something affects our ability to work, it’s not only financial income that’s lost, it’s also the many other benefits of working — social relationships, a routine, and most importantly, a sense of purpose.”

While being injured at work can have a significant impact on the physical and mental well-being of workers, early intervention and applying RTW best practices helps workers stay socially connected and recover in a more timely fashion. Dr. Franche adds that focusing on a worker’s abilities after an injury is key to helping to increase their self-efficacy and well-being.

Join a multidisciplinary team

In addition to Dr. Franche, WorkSafeBC’s Mental Health Services team includes Chief Mental Health Officer Dr. Ashley Spetch, as well as staff with mental health clinical expertise, such as mental health specialists, critical incident response staff, psychology advisors, and other managers.

“Mental health is part of the recovery process for every worker, whether their primary injury is physical or mental,” says Dr. Franche. “Our team strives to approach mental health from a multidisciplinary perspective and with a culture of openness.”

The role of the psychology advisor is unique and essential. They bring a human element to the RTW process as they help to ensure it benefits both the worker and the employer while being sustainable, meaningful, and safe. They also have a direct positive impact on case management teams by adding clarity to the psychological aspects of claims.

“Psychology advisors, mental health specialists, and critical incident response staff, all humanize the system and the process, which supports our goal of taking a worker-centered approach,” says Dr. Franche, adding that the team has increased its number of psychology advisors to better meet the needs of injured workers in B.C.

At WorkSafeBC, psychology advisors work as part of a multidisciplinary team with those in their department and across the organization. They also work with family doctors, psychiatrists, and psychologists in the community — everyone who is involved in a worker’s care.

“Our psychology advisors have a unique opportunity to collaborate, educate, and advocate for mental health, and to make a difference in the lives of injured workers,” says Dr. Franche.

We’re looking for registered psychologists, including recent psychology graduates, to join our dynamic Mental Health Services team.

Learn more and apply at