When we talk about workplace issues, many common problems like work-life balance, workplace bias and bullying come to our minds; but there is a less spoken issue which needs our focus right now : Mental illness.
There are many reasons why employees experience mental health issues. As a manager, it is important for you to keep your employees engaged and productive. This can be easier to achieve if you help them with workplace issues including workplace stress and mental health issues.
According to the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey for Americans ages 15 to 54, 18% of employed individuals experienced symptoms of a mental health issues.
At least one out of six employees deals with mental health issues like anxiety, stress and depression. If you want to help your employees deal with their mental health issues and be productive and engaged at work again, here’s what to do!
Break The Taboo
Why do some employees struggle with having a good mental health? There are many reasons, one of the main reasons is not opening up about it to anyone. Many people shy away from expressing the mental issues that they are battling with on daily basis.
Create a culture that encourages employees to open up about mental health.
Spread awareness about common mental health problems like depression, anxiety, social phobia etc. Encourage your employees to come forward and open about their mental issues, so that you can help them overcome their issues.
Look For Changes In Behavior
Not all employees who have mental issues can come forward and talk about their problems. Sometimes as a manager, you need to go an extra mile and look for changes in behavior of your team members.
Common symptoms that you can look for are irritability, depression, withdrawal from contact with others, loss of motivation, mood swings etc. If you find someone from your team displaying these behaviors, it is time for you to have a conversation about their mental health issues.
Have Conversation With Your Employees
Once you realize that a team member has changed their behavior or is exhibiting symptoms of mental health issues, it is best to have a conversation about it. Do not make assumptions before having the conversation; remember that your impression can be wrong too.
Choose an appropriate place to talk to them and discuss about their change of behavior and the symptoms that you have observed over a significant period of time. Ask them simple questions and encourage them to share what triggers their mental health problem more.
Sometimes, people battling with mental health issues just want someone to hear out what they have to say, so listen to them without judging or giving out opinions instantly.
Support Self Discovery
Talk to them and understand why they need help and develop an action plan for them to improve their mental health. List down the most likely symptoms that trigger the mental health issue and offer them support to deal with it.
Many workplaces offer free sessions with therapist for their employees’ mental health assessment and support. Support your team member and encourage them to take therapy sessions for improvement.
One of the reasons why people don’t open up about their mental health issues in front of their peers is because they fear that it would make them look weak. While having mental health issues doesn’t define how strong a person is, people might not always feel free to discuss it with everyone.
Remember that the Information that your team member shares with you is sensitive and it is your responsibility to keep it confidential. Ensure them that their information is safe and they can always rely on you for support.