Pitfalls in the Management of Mental Health Disabilities in the Workplace

Date: April 11, 2005

by Shelly Bischoff

1. Preconceived opinions and judgments

Learn and Understand the real facts

An emerging demographic trend of Employees most vulnerable to mental health disabilities is women and men in their 10-15 year of service. More than 80% of employees who suffer from mental health condition do not receive treatment.

2. Absence of Employer communication with employee during period of disability

Maintain open lines of communication with employee during absence and return to work planning phase. Remain actively aware and invested in the disability management phase as employers have the highest stake in the disability outcome

3. Returning the employee to less than own occupation

Employees has the right to return to their own occupation and employers have the legal obligation to make every effort to return the employee to their position

4. Expectation that employee will return to work at 100%

The Gradual return to work plan is just as critical for successful outcomes in mental health disabilities as in other types of disabilities

5. Dealing with residual issues (performance) immediately upon the employees return to work

Do not Address outstanding issues from the pre disability period at the onset of the return to work process

6. Combining performance and mental health disability issues

Train supervisors to know the early signs and symptoms of mental health disability. Encourage the employee to seek medical attention or EAP provider and defer discussion regarding performance issue until health issues are ruled out

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