Test your knowledge about some of the approaches to workplace mental health issues found within this website.
"I was in a car accident. I had muscle pain and mental confusion, but they continued longer than they should have - I didn't know that I was actually developing depression. After repeated visits to the doctor, I asked to be screened for depression. My doctor said yes, I did have depression.
I began treatment with medication and had an immediate, positive reaction. I noticed right away that my physical pain and mental confusion were reduced, and I stopped experiencing the mild hallucinations I was suffering from, that I didn't know I was having until they were gone.
Cognitive behavioural therapy helped me the most with feeling better about myself and fixing my workplace relations. I have a new perspective of life and who I am. I'm committed to taking care of myself and paying attention to my needs, and working towards staying well."
Reprinted by permission of the National Post
More from Donna can be found in Working Through It
The individual employee, the manager and the organization may benefit from a performance management process that is sensitive, positive and constructive. Such an approach may help the employee feel valued and better able to reach his or her goals. The organizational goals of performance management are more likely to be met by an employee that is engaged in his or her work and is helping to improve the performance of a particular team and the company.
Focusing more effort on strengths and on developing solutions using those strengths may make a significant difference...
Be supportive and clear. When mental health issues such as excessive stress, burnout, anxiety or depression are present, performance management needs to be especially supportive and clear.
Help the employee feel valued and connected. Some managers may believe they should refrain from interacting with an employee who appears to be emotionally distressed. However, helping an employee remain productive can be done in a way that may leave the employee feeling valued.
Deal with issues. Avoiding or ignoring the issues may decrease the employee's sense of competency, damage relationships with others in the workplace or cause the employee to become more unwell. It is important that the issues be appropriately identified and clearly linked to workplace standards and policies.
Focus on strengths. Some workplaces have adopted processes that focus primarily on what is not working well between manager and employee. While improving what is not working is important, when we focus the majority of our attention on these areas, we tend to deplete the energy of the employee (and often of the manager as well). When we focus on the negative with employees who may be experiencing mental health issues, we also risk a worsening of both the symptoms and the poor work performance. Focusing more effort on strengths and on developing solutions using those strengths may make a significant difference in finding success for employees with mental health issues.
The ability to balance effectively focusing on strengths while still supporting productivity and performance is an important skill for supervisors to develop. This section looks at tips and strategies that can be applied to any existing performance management process, but which may be particularly effective when working with employees who may be experiencing mental health issues.
Many supervisors and managers were promoted to their positions because they were good at the job they had done, not necessarily because they had a lot of experience in managing other people. Managing emotionally distressed employees who may be going through a rough time in their life, experiencing conflict in the workplace, or dealing with a mental or physical health problem, may add significantly to the complexity and emotional cost for managers.
These skill sets are not easily adopted through reading books, articles or web pages. Managing Mental Health Matters, an online video-based training program, includes a number of effective strategies for managers and supervisors. Many supervisors could also benefit from in-person training that includes interacting with others to try out new ways of communicating and working towards solutions when an employee has a mental health issue.
In the 2007 Ipsos-Reid survey it was reported that less than 18% of managers had received training to work with employees who may be experiencing mental health issues. In a follow-up survey in 2012, over 30% of managers had received this type of training, but over 63% still requested improved training opportunities. It is not fair to ask anyone to take on a task, including performance management, without the necessary knowledge, skills and resources to do the task safely and effectively.
The following are links to resources that may be of interest to you. If you click on a link you may be entering a third party website not maintained or controlled in any way by Great-West Life.