How to Support an Employee With Mental Health Challenges

Workplace Wellbeing
April 12, 2022
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No one deserves to struggle with mental wellness issues on their own. Recognizing that someone is struggling is the first step. However, once human resources have identified a problem, that’s often where companies begin to find themselves at a loss. How do you properly approach such a delicate situation?

To help you prepare for Mental Health Awareness Month, this blog will prepare you to deal with employee wellness issues.

What is the Difference Between Mental Illness and Mental Health?

Before you approach any employee struggling with issues, you must differentiate between mental illnesses and mental health. In particular, good mental health is NOT just the absence of mental illness.

A mental illness is an actual medical issue that affects thoughts and behaviors. While your corporate wellness plan can help accommodate someone with a mental illness, it likely won’t have the capacity to actually address it directly. This is a concern of trained medical professionals.

Mental health is a much broader topic overall. It generally encompasses the full scope of mental well-being, including the mental wellness brought by good physical health, mental wellness, workplace fulfillment, and social connections. If an employee is suffering from impacted mental health, there are concrete steps that you can take to try and improve their situation.

Be Willing to Listen to Employee Wellness Concerns 

Sometimes the most challenging part about mental health struggles is starting to talk about them. Sometimes, the most vital part of your corporate wellness plan is simple visibility. This doesn’t just mean raising mental health awareness. It means that you need to make it clear that anyone is welcome to talk to your human resources, at any time, about anything. Of course, sometimes, you will need to take the first step to approach someone showing signs of weakened mental health.

In this case, the first step is always to listen first and talk second. It’s essential to allow them to speak their mind, share their perspective, and articulate their feelings before you start giving any advice to them. Of course, you also need to absolutely assure confidentiality. 

Be the Connection for Mental Health Resources

The first thing you need to do for anyone suffering from mental health issues is to immediately connect them with whatever internal resources you have available. This, of course, depends on the scale of your company and what kind of resources you have available.

If you feel that your company cannot provide all the support you need, it’s vital that you have an external option to direct your employees towards. You can’t simply declare that there is nothing to be done and leave it at that. Sometimes you can’t help, and that’s okay. But you need to have a backup option to provide to an employee in need.

Follow Up on Workplace Wellness 

Whether you provided help internally or externally, it’s important not to simply leave the issue after you’ve taken action. It’s your responsibility to not forget your employee wellness and to do follow-ups. Mental health issues often make it very difficult to take the steps needed to get help. Check-ins to make sure that the employee used the resource are essential. Gentle reminders are, of course, better than dictates. You should check up on how they’re feeling, how they are progressing, and if they need any other support.

Corporate wellness can be a complex subject to get right and requires patience and compassion. Of course, a little bit of extra help doesn’t hurt either. With Liberate resources, you can get a corporate wellness program that proactively gives your employees the tools they need to monitor their own wellness and strengthen it.

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