Human Resources professionals face many difficult situations during their careers. One such challenge is to find out that employees are suffering from mental health problems. If the HR professionals are appointed internally or are hr advisors, and not properly educated on the topic, the initial reaction to this situation can be negative.
However, the idea that a person with mental health is risky or counterproductive is simply erroneous. It may seem like a complicated situation, but Human Resources can or should do a few simple things to alleviate the problem.
Raise Awareness and Eradicate the Stigma
The first thing the HR department must do to support employees with mental health is to educate themselves and their entire workforce. Much of the stigma about mental health exists due to misunderstanding, misrepresentation, and misinformation. It is difficult for people to request help due to this stigma. Staff admitting that they have a mental health challenge is often met with negativity or employers refusing to believe it. Some people are dismissed.
The truth is that mental health problems are health problems. While one never doubts the validity of a cancer diagnosis, people with depression, anxiety, ADHD, or other disorders are often told to “get over it” or “undo it.” But the brain is just another organ in the body. In the case of disease, treatment is required. Because pure willpower does not cure a common cold, it cannot cure mental disorders. Dispelling the myth is the first step toward ending the stigma.
Provision of Resources
Literature can teach people a lot about mental health, but it is important to remember that your HR manager is not qualified to diagnose mental health disorders. There are a lot of nuances in this space, so it’s best to leave it to the medical professionals. What the HR department can do is provide employees with the right resources. One of these tools is the Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, which can educate the management team on approaching staff suffering from mental health issues and how to deal with this tactfully. You can also provide telephone counselling and referrals to help employees. The Return-to-Work Program is an ideal way to assist staff with time-management skills to prepare to return to their work environment post recovering from mental health challenges. Allowing personalized working hours and other flexible working options can have a positive impact on employee productivity. Normalizing this type of flexibility is also very useful for those who are dealing with mental health problems.
The challenge for people is the difficulty to understand how it feels when someone has mental health problems. The experience is unique in each case and there are complex issues involved. You should let someone know that you are trying to understand their situation and that you acknowledge that what they are going through seems challenging and taxing. Having someone to support them will be a great way to build trust, especially if the impact is hampering their ability to function effectively. Understand and empathize with those who have mental health problems. Not everyone’s mental health problems can be solved, but HR professionals are in a unique position to help someone on a healing journey. Create an environment where you can become a support system, it can make all the difference.
*This is a contributed post