Recognizing the importance of mental health is one thing, but actually tal king about it is another matter
Mental health can be a sensitive topic, and business leaders who aren’t prepared to have conversations about it can discourage employees from coming forward with an issue. The worst-case scenario is having an employee suppress the problem for fear of rami
From the top down
Supervisors of all levels should be equipped to handle a mental health concern. Patrick Galenza, NAIT’s radio and television program chair, has taken the Mental Health First Aid course offered by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and says staff and students tend to bring up issues with the person they feel most comfortable with. “Coming to the chair might be awkward or intimidating in some cases, so everyone [on staff] has that foundation and can point them in the right direction.”
Lend a hand
If you don’t have the know-how to solve an employee’s issue on your own (assuming you’re not a registered psychologist), don’t leave them hanging. Point them in the right direction, whether it’s to the Employee Family Assistance Program or to an outside resource. Galenza says one of the most valuable aspects of the Mental Health First Aid training is being equipped with resources he can direct staff and students to. “Who knew there are probably 90 different companies or groups [in Edmonton] that are at the ready, from Poundmaker’s Lodge Treatment Centre, to Alberta Health Services, to Catholic Support Services,” he says. “The staff feel more comfortable when they have numbers at the ready.”
Chec k in
Simply saying hello to staff members can help you spot if something is wrong. If an employee is especially quiet, or their performance is falling, ask what’s going on. “I can tell if a staff member is having a tough day,” Galenza says. “Lots of times you can tell if something is going on and you can ask what’s happening.” Have your ear to the ground and be aware of staff morale.
For employees coming forward with a mental health concern, talk to the supervisor you feel most comfortable with one-on-one. Don’t feel the need to disclose every issue of your illness; it’s not necessary to share sensitive information for the sake of defending your illness.