Most employers will face a situation at some point where they need to decide whether or not to fire an employee with mental health issues. This decision can be difficult, but you should remember that it’s crucial to support mental health in the workplace for both the individual and the company.
Mental health issues in the workplace are often kept because employees are afraid of being stigmatized or losing their job. As an employer, you must create a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable talking about their mental health.
What Are Mental Health Issues?
Mental health issues are any condition that affects a person’s mood, thought process, and ability to cope with stress. These can include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
While mental health issues can be serious and debilitating, they are also prevalent. In fact, millions of people suffer from mental health issues globally.
Mental health problems can impact an individual’s ability to work. They can cause absenteeism, decreased productivity, and conflicts with co-workers. In some cases, mental health issues can also lead to safety concerns for both the individual and those around them.
Signs of Mental Health Problems
As an employer, it’s essential to be aware of the signs of mental health issues so you can provide support to employees who may be struggling. These signs can include:
- Suddenly taking more sick days than usual
- Missing deadlines or not meeting expectations
- Appearing disengaged or uninterested in work
- Withdraw from social activities
- Having difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Exhibiting sudden changes in behavior, mood, or personality
What to Do if an Employee is Struggling with Mental Health Issues
1. Encourage Them to Seek Professional Help
If you observe that an employee is struggling with mental health issues, you should first encourage them to seek professional help. This can include therapy, counseling, or medication.
Many people are reluctant to seek help for mental health problems because they fear stigma or discrimination. As an employer, you should reassure your employees that you’re there to support them and that their job is not in danger if they seek help.
You should also let your employees know about your company’s resources or benefits for mental health support. For instance, some companies offer free or discounted counseling services for employees, in addition to a pension plan for executives and employees.
2. Create a Supportive Work Environment
It’s also crucial to create a supportive work environment for employees with mental health issues. This includes providing clear expectations, regular feedback, and a sense of community.
Individuals with mental health issues often feel isolated and alone. They may feel like they’re the only ones struggling with these problems. Creating a supportive environment will help them feel less alone and more connected to their co-workers.
It’s also important to be understanding and patient when working with employees who have mental health issues. Remember that they are dealing with a lot of stress and may need extra help or accommodation.
For example, you may need to be flexible with deadlines or allow them to work from home on days when they’re feeling particularly anxious or depressed.
3. Offer Mental Health Training for Managers and Employees
Finally, it’s good to provide mental health training for both managers and employees. This training can help everyone in the company understand more about mental health issues and support those who are struggling.
Mental health training can also help employees feel more comfortable talking about their mental health problems. This is critical because many people are reluctant to seek help for fear of stigma or discrimination.
Offering mental health training shows your employees that you’re committed to supporting their mental health and that you take mental health issues seriously.
Mental health issues are common that can have a major impact on an individual’s ability to work. As an employer, it’s important to be aware of the signs of mental health issues and know what to do if an employee is struggling. You should also create a supportive work environment and provide mental health training for managers and employees.
If these seem overwhelming for your company, consider hiring third parties offering administrative help, such as LifeWorks. Wellness services from LifeWorks can provide your employees with access to mental health support, counseling, and other resources.