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

Alberta Venture - - The Briefing -

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.

Don’t over­share

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.

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