Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Mental health issues in the workplace

Many decades ago, I wrote a story on how to handle it if someone in your office seems to be deteriorating mentally. The suggestion then was referral to an employee assistance specialist.

I don't know if those even exist anymore--and mental health issues have gone from locking yourself in the bathroom and refusing to come out to shooting up the office sand killing coworkers.

This is not to say that all people with mental health issues are violent--they aren't. But times are changing.

Karen Higginbottom, writing in Forbes, says one in six workers in the UK suffer from depression, anxiety and stress.

Yet--the attitude toward these ailments remains in the dark ages, with 56% of employers saying they would not hire a person suffering from depression.

Often, too, Human Resources people have to be mental health counselors, according to MetLife.

A major step forward would be to create workplaces where employees feel they can come forward.

Barclays has done that, according to this story. They have gone to some lengths to de-stigmatize mental health problems. Recovery is absolutely possible, they say--and saying otherwise is a myth.

--Managers need to know that stress, anxiety and depression are serious enough to warrant time off work (2/3s of managers don't agree).

--Line managers need to learn to be trained to recognize warning signs of too much pressure on staff.

--They need to be able to refer people to outside help (maybe Employee Assistance Programs, yes, they still exist).

PricewaterhouseCoopers even created a mental health toolkit.

That's not too crazy, is it?

By the way--"crazy"--don't say that.

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