In this article, our Senior HR advisor, Dan Williams, offers guidance to employers asking the question, my Employee has a mental health problem, What Can I Do to Help?
In the UK, 1 in 6 people has disclosed, discussed or discovered they have a mental health problem. As an employer, you have a duty of care to your employees who have any illness, whether it be physical or mental. By tackling this, hopefully, it can act as a performance intervention and improve the employee’s wellbeing. As an employer, you can do several cost-effective and efficient tasks:
Talking about mental health can be the most difficult part of the process for employees; therefore as a decent human being, you can listen to them and ensure they are supported – acting as the employer second. Mental health is not spoken about enough, especially among male employees. Therefore, creating a culture of mental health awareness and acceptance allows people to come forward.
The key to tackling the stigma of discussing mental health starts with the culture line managers bring to their teams. Line managers need to have a basic understanding of how to have sensitive conversations – just as they do for handling difficult conversations. A line manager may not be the first point of contact the employee goes to, but it is worth having trained managers.
Managers need to be able to talk in a quiet and confidential area, asking open-ended and non-judging questions to avoid assumptions. One size doesn’t always fit all, you need to know how their situation and condition is influencing their work and what they need, asking the employee is the best approach than manager-led.
Following your talk with the employee they may suggest how their mental health is affecting them, this the manager may (or should) suggest workplace adjustments that are reasonable to the business. Such as a change in a shift pattern or working hours. If you are a shift pattern led business, you could suggest swapping the pattern or looking at when their rest day is. This can assist with sleeping issues, absences and parental duties. There are countless reasonable adjustments you can introduce to ensure your employee is comfortable and can handle their mental health at work. Should an employee work from home, it can be harder to manage but communicating their needs is necessary.
Work can feel overpowering at times, and if an employee has mental health, on top of that it can increase to a larger issue. To support your employee, make it apparent that help and advice are available to them if that is to share the workload or offer guidance if completely stuck. Having regular catch-ups with your team allows the employees the chance to offload any grievances or hurdles when it comes to their work, confronting this may reduce the impact on their mental health.
The catch-ups also give the opportunity to allow two-way feedback, offering the chance to help with any potential or existing barriers. This can allow lessons learned or debrief of a difficult task or project, to avoid errors going forward.
Sometimes an employer can admit they are out of their depth with mental health. Therefore, you may need a third party to come into the business to support the employee. You can utilise an EAP (Employee Assistance Programme), which is a free confidential service that gives your employees access to counselling and self-help support, giving you back your free time, but also helping the employee on their journey.
Another method can be to speak to an Occupational Health Provider, who will assess the employee from a medical professional’s point of view. The medical practitioner can point out other reasonable adjustments for the workplace you may have not recognised, should the employee return to work from long term sickness, you can offer a phased return to work to slowly get them back to work without overloading and overdoing.
If you have any further questions or queries about the content above or would like to request a demo for oneHR, please don’t hesitate to contact the oneHR team today and create a smooth HR operation.