Equipping Managers to Deal with Employee Mental Health Issues
May 26, 2023
By Linda Olejniczak, courtesy of SBAM-approved partner, ASE
Recognizing when an employee is experiencing a mental health crisis can be challenging, as employees may not always feel comfortable disclosing their mental health concerns. However, there are some signs and symptoms that employers and managers can look out for.
Employees under mental stress might:
- Exhibit changes in their behavior or mood. They may become withdrawn, agitated, or irritable. They may also experience changes in their sleeping or eating patterns.
- Struggle to focus or complete tasks. They may miss deadlines or have a decrease in their productivity.
- Be absent more. They may call in sick more frequently, arrive late to work, or leave work early.
- Exhibit changes in their appearance. They may have poor hygiene, appear disheveled, or exhibit a lack of self-care.
- Turn to substance use as a way of coping with their feelings. They may exhibit changes in their behavior or mood when using substances.
- Exhibit changes in their communication style. They may become more withdrawn, avoid social situations, or have difficulty communicating effectively.
Mental health issues can be complex and challenging to handle, especially for front-line managers who may not have formal training in mental health. Here are some tips that you can give your managers to help them handle mental health issues in the workplace:
- Work with your leaders to create a safe space for employees to share their mental health concerns. This can involve creating an open-door policy, scheduling regular check-ins with employees, or providing resources such as mental health hotlines.
- Encourage your managers to listen actively to employees who are experiencing mental health issues. This involves showing empathy, understanding, and compassion. It’s important to avoid judging or minimizing the employee’s concerns.
- Organizations need to provide HR and managers with resources that they can offer to employees who are experiencing mental health issues. This may include employee assistance programs, counseling services, online services, coaching or referrals to mental health professionals.
- Train your managers first. This will involve providing training or resources on mental health topics, such as stress management, depression, or anxiety.
- Have a confidential process in place. Remind your managers to respect the privacy of employees who are experiencing mental health issues. This may involve keeping their concerns confidential, only sharing information on a need-to-know basis, or providing support without prying into their personal lives.
Managers and HR are not health professionals. Encourage your managers and HR to know their limitations when it comes to handling mental health issues. It’s important for them to recognize when they need to seek additional support or refer the employee to a mental health professional.
By following these tips, your front-line managers along with HR can create a supportive and inclusive workplace environment for employees who are experiencing mental health issues.