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5 Common Mental Health Challenges in the Workplace

5 Common Mental Health Challenges in the Workplace

​You can’t see mental health challenges, but they are happening all around you.Speaking during a session at the recent SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021, Andrea Sides Herron, SHRM-CP, told the plight of her sister, who has struggled with mental health issues for nearly her entire life. Then COVID-19 made them worse. Herron’s sister initially hid how she was feeling from friends and family, but eventually the warning signs became clearly visible and she asked for help.Mental health issues are afflicting people in your office, too, Herron said. Pre-pandemic, 1 in 5 people in the U.S. had some form of mental disorder; the numbers have skyrocketed since then. Identifying Employees Who Are Experiencing Mental Health Challenges”Many of you are being squished by mental illness,” Herron said. “You have more than you can handle.”One way HR teams and supervisors can identify staff members experiencing mental health challenges, she said, is by paying attention to each person’s base lines. What is the person’s typical behavior? Learning this becomes more difficult with remote workers, she said, but there are signs that should cause concern.”Have you noticed that a person’s appearance has shifted?” she asked. “Are they choosing not to have their camera on during videoconference meetings when they usually did? Is there evidence that they’re drinking too much or [have] picked up smoking again? Maybe they’ve told you about the 12 Amazon deliveries that show up at their house each day. These are signs.”Herron, a seasoned HR executive, author and host of the HR Scoop podcast, advised HR and managers to be careful when reacting or responding to an employee’s changed behavior. “Do not add to the shame that can come with mental health’s stigma,” she said. Addressing Struggling EmployeesHerron described five fictional employees, explored some of their behaviors and suggested ways of dealing with those behaviors. Masa: He’s been an employee at the company for three years. He’s been a solid performer, but his manager has noticed changes in his behavior and there are rumors that he’s getting a divorce.Check in with him. Managers should keep an open-door policy and let employees know they are there for support, Herron said. “Employers should never make that first one-on-one meeting … because an employee did something wrong,” she said. “Try to meet earlier on with employees under friendly terms to help to establish a better relationship.” Carlyn: She’s been working at the company for two years. She’s a high-performer, and she has asked for an off-cycle raise. You sense that she’s under financial strain.It turns out her partner was fired and her household is lacking income. She’s become uncharacteristically angry at her co-workers.”We know there is a strong link between financial stress and mental health,” Herron said.Herron suggested that the employer might:Offer her a promotion with more responsibilities since she is a high-performer, if it makes business sense.Think about whether the company is doing enough to offer resources that support financial wellness.Consider offering tuition reimbursement or student loan payoffs or other benefits in addition to a traditional 401(k).Employees can be high-performers and have mental …