Discussing one’s mental health problems often proves a difficult conversation to start. Mainly because so many of the issues and illnesses prey on your ability to actually start a conversation. That opener, though, can help and then when people properly comprehend what is happening to their employees, no doubt the correct action that can facilitate a change in the employee’s well-being.
There is often a misconception that it is the employees’ responsibility to start these conversations. If you know what’s happening to you, it has to be you that makes it known. It may be wrong but it’s logical to assume you don’t know what’s going on inside someone else’s head; it’s less presumptuous as well.
However with disorders such as Anxiety or depression, the symptoms may inhibit the person’s ability or desire to speak. It’s the responsibility of the neurotypical to ask the questions that get the information they need with disorders like Anxiety and Depression inhibiting your ability to properly talk about the disorder.
Employers have a duty of care when it comes to their employees’ physical safety and no employee would be asked to commit to a course of action that may potentially threaten their health. It’s been the aim of many mental health fundraisers and campaigners to have the same attitude to mental health as it does to physical health. But how exactly would this be done?
This is done on a situational basis and physical health is a lot easier to navigate as the amount you can carry or the likelihood of you falling down is pretty simple when it comes to quantification. However, with situations that are likely to arise like varying degrees of confrontation and bullying, these aren’t things you can put on a job description with the phrase ‘neurodiverse need not apply’.
There needs to be efforts on behalf of companies to ensure the working environment is as peaceful as possible and with structured lines of communication open. If someone feel their disorder steadily getting worse, do they know who they can talk to? Make sure everyone knows who they can escalate their problems to.
It’s also important to note that the world isn’t divided up into neurotypical and neurodiverse peoples. Anyone is susceptible to developing certain disorders like the aforementioned anxiety and depression at any stage in their lives and the disorders themselves manifest very differently according to person. This is the primary reason communication is important as there isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all solution to any one disorder.
Consider the idea that certain company politics should be up for debate. If people feel they can talk about it, they probably will but more important is for those living with these illnesses to feel heard.
This means appropriate action; a phrase that will no doubt frighten some employers because those suffering could need the company to take action based on its own knowledge of a disorder and feels responsible for the employee’s complete welfare. What often makes this easier is a medical diagnosis, so medical professionals can work with employers who genuinely want to find the best way to help alleviate the problems.
Maybe it’s even time for mental health awareness programs to become mandatory for all companies so that no one is left confused and more importantly the disorder hasn’t gone unnoticed or untreated.
For more, here’s a handy link to Mental Health at Work.