10 tips for managing employees struggling with mental health issues

Create a mental health policy

HR needs to have a policy, communicate the policy to employees, and stick to it when situations arise, according to Brett Farmiloe, founder and CEO of Terkel, based in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“The policy should clearly state that it is acceptable to take time off to treat depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses and set out the necessary steps to be taken to obtain that time off,” Farmiloe said. “Leaders need to show they support the policy, so employees feel confident about taking time off. When employees follow the policy, employers must stick to what they have said publicly and informally. There are many more questions than answers when it comes to mental illness during the pandemic, but creating a clearly defined policy helps clear things up for both employees and employers.

Offer anonymous support

“It is becoming essential for companies to provide employees with mental health support,” says Ewelina Melon, head of people and culture at global technology company Tidio. “We included anonymous mental health assistance in our benefits during the pandemic and it turned out to be the right decision. We have offered our employees free access to a platform with certified psychologists and psychotherapists, so that everyone can register and be assigned a suitable therapist. This has proven to be a very popular benefit – anonymity reduces stigma, meaning more employees are likely to sign up.

Provide welfare allowances

“Employers often select the types of wellness benefits they think employees want,” says Chelsea C. Williams, founder and CEO of New York-based Reimagine Talent Co. “But an allocation approach allows employees to use funds in a way unique to their particular circumstances. Choice becomes a powerful tool to help people feel a sense of belonging and healing. HR could probe the different ways in which employees take advantage of the annual allowance as a learning opportunity.

Encourage mindfulness exercises

Anxiety can cause employees to withdraw from communicating and collaborating with their team. That’s why Mark Daoust, president and CEO of Quiet Light Brokerage in Mooresville, North Carolina, suggests that HR managers encourage employees to complete brief mindfulness exercises at work.

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