Managing Mental Illness in Your Disability Management Program

Taking care of the health of your employees isn’t just about their physical health. Their mental health is just as important, and perhaps even more so during these past two years considering everything we have had to face during the pandemic.

To make sure the mental health of your employees is attended to as well as possible, here are a few ways you could incorporate managing mental illness into your disability management program.

Know what role you play (and what role you don’t)

As an employer, you cannot legally discriminate against someone because of their mental illness. You also must accommodate (to the best of your ability without undue hardship) the employee, so they have what is needed to do their job. Employers must also make sure the workspace is safe for employees with a mental illness and ensure the employees do not feel their colleagues or supervisors are treating them differently.

Create the culture

Many people have difficulties talking about their mental illness, and it’s even harder to disclose this to your employer (especially if you feel like you will be treated differently because of it). One of the best things an employer can do is try to remove the stigma around mental health and truly create an open office policy where employees feel safe to talk about what they need.

This can also come in the form of company communications and lunch and learns to help everyone feel comfortable with the topic of mental health. You could even let your employees know that it’s completely okay (and, possibly even encouraged) to take mental health days if needed. You can also have mental health initiatives and workshops to share support your employees’ mental wellbeing.

Train your supervisors on the signs of mental health issues

Some people may have a mental illness but are unaware that it is a medical issue or feel uncomfortable talking about it. Providing training to your supervisors or managers to know the signs of mental health issues can be helpful to employees. This doesn’t mean that you are responsible for being their mental health practitioner — that is not your role as an employer. But if your supervisors know what to look for and how to approach the subject with their staff, it can help identify issues that your employees might not bring forward themselves.

Practice patience and compassion

When your employees are dealing with a mental illness, it’s a lot for them to handle. If they feel like their employer doesn’t have time for them, it can add stress. If you show your employees compassion and patience, they won’t forget that you were there for them, and you’ll likely get a more loyal and dedicated employee out of it.

The last 18 months have been tough on all of us, no question. Many people are coping with mental health issues when they previously haven’t. If mental illness hasn’t been considered in your disability management program before, it certainly needs to be now.

Contact TeksMed today!

When your staff feels their best both mentally and physically, they can do their best for your company. If you would like assistance with your disability management or return to work programs, contact TeksMed today to learn how we can help.

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