Workplaces are trying harder than ever to support employees with mental health issues, but many professionals are still unsure how to approach certain gray areas. From discussing personal mental health issues to supporting a colleague who may be unwell, here are a few tips to help you handle these delicate office situations.
Dealing with Ongoing Mental Health Conditions
Managing a chronic condition requires long-term support, so employees shouldn't be afraid to seek help from their managers to better cope with their conditions. The Americans with Disabilities Act demands that employers provide reasonable accommodations for certain employees in this type of situation. However, many managers are willing to lend a hand either way. Talk to your manager if you need a few extra sick days, flexible hours or other accommodations to help you cut down stress and boost your mental health.
Should You Talk to Your Manager About Your Mental Health?
While employers shouldn't discriminate against those with conditions, some businesses still fall short. Be cautious about sharing extensive details about your mental health with managers, and remember that your employer doesn't need to know the details in order to provide accommodations. The same is true even if you are returning from a mental health-related medical leave. If you have a good relationship with a manager you trust, feel free to share as many details as you feel comfortable.
Taking Time Off for Mental Health
If stressful conditions at work or home are causing a flare-up, don't hesitate to take a day or two to recuperate. When asking for time off, you don't have to say anything beyond that you are unwell, but if you feel the need to give an explanation, you can always get away with broadly citing "mental health reasons." Managers should respect mental health days just as they do sick days for the flu, especially if they are unaware what issues the worker may be dealing with under the surface. Employers should allow employees to take as much time off as needed so they can return to the office in a better state.
Unspoken Signs of Mental Health Issues in Colleagues
If you notice possible symptoms in subordinates or fellow employees, the first step should be to ask how they're doing. Show support and care, and be willing to listen. If you're worried about a manager, see if another team member can confirm that the leader is exhibiting strange behavior to validate your suspicion. If more than one employee notices the change, they can start by talking to the manager personally, maintaining a caring, non-confrontational attitude. The workers can then choose to bring the issue to HR if necessary.
As information about dealing with mental health becomes more widespread, employees and managers alike can enjoy a more supportive atmosphere that benefits everyone. Do you have any additional tips for managing mental health in the workplace?
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