Mental illness is a prickly subject on a good day. Mental illness in the workplace is completely taboo. When was the last time the subject was formally addressed in your work context? Never, you say? Sounds about right.
Not too long ago, I was having a meeting with a client of mine. He told me how his team had recently been dealt a double whammy by one member of their team going AWOL and absconding from work, and two weeks later, another member of the team committing suicide. This left the entire organisation (albeit a small one) feeling rattled, seeing as they had all built close relationships with each other.
Those afflicted with mental illness usually play down or keep completely mum about their diagnosis, out of fear of being put at a disadvantage in the work sphere. There are still massive stigmas attached to ailments such as depression, bipolar, anxiety and various other disorders. Many employees would “rather die” than admit to suffering from a mental illness.
The costs of mental illness are also vast. Not surprisingly, such ailments lead to lowered productivity, increased sick related absenteeism, poor work quality, wasted materials and compromised workplace safety.
A proactive approach to managing mental health in the workplace is an imperative. Companies who have integrated an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to support employees dealing with various issues alongside their mental health see a positive incline in the productivity in their staff. However it’s not always feasible – especially in smaller organisations – to set up big programmes to support your team. What important is to be mindful of the warning signs of what a member of your team may be displaying, and to encompass an open-door policy to have those frank conversations if need be. Other pointers include:
If you would like Holistan to host a talk at your organisation about Mental Health in the Workplace, get in touch with us on 011 201 2142 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
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