Managing employee mental health is a topic that is now more than ever is incredibly important as we begin to rebuild our lives after covid-19. The implications of covid for mental health is a dire situation. It has impacted every person around the world and it has increased fear, worry, concern, and anxiety for all age groups. As a manager, you will most likely have to manage several employees who are affected by mental illness during this difficult time.
Addressing Mental Health
As a manager, if you don’t recognize or address mental illness, employees will generally leave if they are not supported. People who are affected by mental illness are prone to rampant unemployment either from being laid off or quitting. Unemployment is a major trigger for anxiety and depression and it can be hard for people to find and even keep jobs. In a perfect world, people who are affected by mental health disorders would be 100% supported in the workplace at the organizational level. They would be able to grow and thrive with the proper treatment.
However, the world is not perfect. Even if you support mental health initiatives on your team, maybe they are not supported at the organizational level because executive leadership isn’t comfortable speaking about mental health openly because of the stigma associated with mental health disorders. Mental health initiatives will not be created and rolled out overnight. They take time as people warm to the topic of conversation. The only way to remove the stigma is to talk about mental health openly.
Talk About Mental Health Openly
When you talk about mental health openly, your employees should follow your lead. If you don’t have mental health issues yourself, maybe you have friends or family who are and that you can draw experience from. It is important for leaders to begin the conversation and not shut down employees who discuss mental health openly.
If an employee’s productivity has gone down and they are not as engaged as they once were, they may be affected by mental illness. You should treat conversations regarding mental illness the same as you would do with a performance review. Begin by asking them what you can do to help and what support do they need. They may not be comfortable talking to you about mental health at first not because they don’t trust you but because they are not acknowledging that they have a problem. In many cultures, people with diagnosed mental health disorders are viewed as weak or even crazy. This is simply not true and is rooted in ignorance of what people affected by mental health issues go through.
Support Your Employees’ Mental Health
If you or anyone on your team is affected by mental illness and are not being treated, please do your best to encourage them to get treatment but without overstepping. Let them know you support them and guide them to any resources available to them. But remember, people have to help themselves and you cannot do it for them. Being supportive may be exactly what they need to look inward and address their issues.
Managing Employee Mental Health – Courses on Pluralsight
I teach diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace in several of my Pluralsight courses: Increasing Mental Health Awareness for Improved Inclusiveness, Managing Technical Professionals, and Launching Successful Teams. These courses include animated scenario-based training following the same cast of characters from course to course as they learn to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Visit my Pluralsight author page to get started with these courses today!