Ensuring Healthy Ways To Discuss Mental Health Issues In The Work Environment

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It is, surprisingly, an issue that is not spoken of in some corners of the workplace. Mental health is definitely out in the open due to high profile celebrities like Robin Williams. But even in the workplace, it can be filed away under “do not talk about.” For some, there is a taboo of discussing it openly, as it can be seen to be weak or that people are too “heart on their sleeve” about the issue, which is a common approach to high-flyers or entrepreneurs. Mental health issues reveal themselves in many different symptoms. From anxiety or stress to conditions on the other end of the spectrum, like bipolar disorder. Some individuals turn to substance abuse to cope with these mental health issues, which exacerbate the issue even further. 

In the workplace, 1 in 6 people will suffer from an issue relating to mental health at some point. From the point of view of business, this can severely impact on a staff member’s ability to work at their best. From the point of view of someone running a business, you can feel that taking the time to sit down with an employee may eat into your precious time of keeping the company going. When it comes to a member of staff approaching you to discuss something of this magnitude, it is a big deal for them. And they may have wrestled with the idea of coming to you for fear of it affecting their job position. Or maybe they even felt embarrassed. Or you may be able to notice something different in their demeanor. They could be feeling irritable, or are withdrawing socially. Look here for a detailed article on what to look out for should you suspect someone is having issues with their mental health.

If you are running an organization where there you may feel that there is a member of staff that is going through a difficult time, here are some ways that you can deal with it in a sensitive manner.

Make Sure You Choose The Right Place To Discuss The Issue

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Encouraging confidentiality in a setting where there are fewer eyes prying will ease the tension in your employee. Go to a quiet spot or a meeting room tucked away.

Encourage Conversation

People in this setting can find it very difficult to open up and discuss their issues. You need to be open and ask questions in an open manner instead of the types of questions that will elicit a “yes” or “no” response. If you start a dialogue with them, it will help for a more honest conversation. These are techniques that a Business Coach will help with if you feel that you need to build up your skills in these areas.

Make Sure They Know It’s Confidential

You are listening to a colleague opening their heart. It is going to be very sensitive regarding the information they will tell you. Ask them what they would like to have shared regarding referring them to Occupational Health or Human Resources. And likewise, what they don’t want to be shared.

Listen To What They Have To Say

This person is confiding in you completely. Respond properly and be open to their needs. Don’t just smile and nod!

Make The Adjustments In The Workplace For Them

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Ask them what they need to be helped back to work properly. Maybe you can develop a plan to establish their specific workplace triggers. Maybe they need time away from work. As their employer, you need to address the issue in a sensitve manner and work with them, not against them.

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