May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Sherri HebdaHuman Resources, News

For people with bipolar disorder, mental illness feels like a balancing act. In order to stay healthy, people with this disorder need to take their meds, get enough sleep, and stay attuned to their mood. They are always aware of the potential for their symptoms of mania and depression to recur, and must be prepared to manage them.

This illness and other mental health illnesses could very well affect your current employees without you being aware of it, especially depending on the level of severity. A healthy workplace environment is paramount for these employees to manage symptoms at work and it involves many of the same supports that your employees appreciate, such as:

  • access to employee assistance programs (EAPs),
  • health & prescription coverage,
  • work-life balance policies,
  • work-life balance culture, and
  • reasonable accommodations.

Supports like these mean employees that have these symptoms are not sitting on the sidelines with skills and experience, instead they arrive to work and add value to your business. And for the countless businesses that employ people with mental health issues, it means a productive, appreciative workforce. Why would an employer want to overlook or fire people with skills, abilities and intelligence?

Living with a mental illness also includes being aware of the stigma that comes along with it. A misperception about people with mental health disabilities is that they are weak or have a flawed character, rather than recognizing the biological basis of these conditions. Sadly, attitudes like these prevent people from seeking the help that they need to live healthy lives, and may discourage employers from hiring skilled, productive workers.

Just as many employers readily accommodate an employee experiencing symptoms of multiple sclerosis through telework, provide leave for an employee who is hospitalized for cancer treatment, or encourage an employee with a chronic back injury to return to work, it makes good business sense to provide the same flexibilities to those with mental health disabilities, especially because there are many.

Employers who make the availability of these types of supports well known to employees increase the likelihood that those with mental health disabilities will request what they need, fostering the mental health of your entire workforce.

If you are interested in the resources available, please contact Sherri Hebda, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, HR Solutions.


Information contained in this article as well as more on this topic can be found on the Society for Human Resource Management website.


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