Leaders in every organization must effectively deal with sensitive employee situations, and mental health in the workplace is no exception. A recent Global and Mail article, Mental health – a manager’s toughest talk, outlined how difficult and uncomfortable it can be for a manager to have a conversation with an employee about a mental health issue. However, leaders must address mental illness if there is reason to believe it is the underlying cause of an employee’s lack of productivity and performance.
We know early diagnosis and treatment are critical for successful recovery and return to work, but managers should not attempt to diagnose the issue nor should they take on the role of therapist or confidante.
So what is the manager’s role in this situation?
Managers are best positioned to observe changes in an individual’s performance and behaviour over time. They should be equipped to recognize signs and symptoms of mental illness, know how to approach the employee on this topic, and be aware of resources available such as their Employee and Family Assistance Program, or a community group or program.
Through our Mental Health in the Workplace workshops, we have trained leaders and managers of organizations across Canada to:
- Understand common mental health issues
- Recognize symptoms and behaviours associated with mental health issues
- Learn how to discuss mental health issues with employees
- Understand their roles and responsibilities in addressing mental health issues
- Recognize the legal requirements regarding mental health disabilities and provide accommodation
Ms. Sophie Watier, a manager at Bell Canada who was interviewed in the Globe and Mail article, says of our training:
“We were taught to recognize symptoms and how to act on that, how to discuss such a sensitive topic with employees. We were given tools on how to approach the conversations, how to do it so we are respectful.”
A benefit of workplace mental health training is leaders can proactively help employees before it is too late, resulting in disability or crisis. With support and simple accommodations in the workplace, employees can often successfully return to full productivity.
This instructor-led workshop is offered in two modules: half day and full day. Through a workplace learning consultation with one of our experts, learn more about our Mental Health in the Workplace workshop or other learning sessions focused on mental health.