Mental Illness in the Workplace- What can HR do about it?

Last week in our blog we talked about how we need to speak up about mental illness. Read it Here

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As HR professionals we are frequently exposed to how mental illness can affect performance in our workplace. Whether its anxiety, depression, medical disorders or other issues like sleep deprivation, alcoholism, financial stress we as support staff need to be ready to handle the situation.

It’s important to be empathetic and not to judge the situation – there is inevitably more going on behind the scenes you don’t know about.

Realise that unless you (or the line Manager) are a trained psychologist you are probably not the right person to fix the problem.

Depending on the situation you need a suite of resources you can call on to refer people on to:

  • Start with an Employee Assistance programme – e.g. EAP, SEED – there are a number out there and they deal with a multitude of issues – (these support services also offer a number of in house sessions on how to cope with differing issues – these can be successful if run during the working day)
  •  Often a GP is the best place to start – they can refer on from there
  • Get to know where and how the national health system can help
  • Situations may require the police of other government health services

As mentioned last week it’s very hard to get people to talk about mental illness – especially in the workplace. You may first notice issues around the following behaviours:

  • timeliness
  • attendance
  • ability to get on with colleagues
  • anger issues or
  • inability to do the job.

Always have relevant brochures at the ready, tissues on your desk and work through options with the line manager as to how to handle this best for the staff member and then the business.

Here once again are some websites that may help you:

by Emma Worseldine

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