Throughout the year we have had a number of enquiries from clients whose employees are experiencing mental health challenges. With the media showing considerable interest in this area too, we thought it’s time to have this conversation.

Life throws out curve balls to all of us at some time or other. When it’s our employees who are facing problems, most are able to leave their problems at the door and get on with their job. But for others, sometimes it’s just not that simple.

Mental health issues can be challenging to navigate for employers. Whilst the mental health challenges often don’t arise out of the employment relationship, they can have a significant impact in the workplace. Key amongst these are attendance, performance and general attitude.

When an employee has a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety, it’s unrealistic to think they can just “snap out of it” and suddenly become your star performer.

When there are issues in the workplace and the employee has disclosed that they have a mental health condition, a good employer will start addressing any concerns early on rather than letting them get to the point of no return. Being proactive is beneficial for the business – through reduced absences, improved productivity and a well-functioning workplace.

Taking a proactive and supportive approach right from the start means opening up dialogue with your employee. Other aspects might include a referral to EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) Services, developing an understanding of the triggers, focusing on what the employee can do, and working with the employee to develop a wellness plan or a return to work plan. All these measures are supportive rather than punitive.

Don’t get me wrong, there might come a point in time when you can no longer continue to take the supportive approach and have to put the needs of the business first. This isn’t a nice point to be at for either you or your employee and we really encourage you to get sound professional advice if you find yourself in this situation.

If you need some help with mental health issues in the workplace, give us a call. We’ll guide you through the steps.

Note: If you’d like to do some of your own research, check out this New Zealand link:
Managing mental health issues in the workplace