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How to avoid discrimination with mental health related absences

In the corporate world, mental health and employee wellbeing are becoming more prominent. Organisations, specifically HR departments, work hard to ensure that all employees feel included and supported within the working environment by addressing mental health concerns and aiming to make the workplace a better place. Out of the very many, some mental health issues are not easy to pick up on and can also result in employees being absent from work and feeling somewhat discriminated against.

 

In this article, we shall discuss how we can avoid colleagues feeling discriminated against with mental health-related absences and how we can improve the workplace culture that prioritises the holistic wellbeing of its workforce.

 

1.Understanding the Impact of Mental Health Absences on Colleagues

 

Mental health absences can be challenging for the affected employees and their colleagues. However, the lack of awareness regarding the intricacies of mental health issues often leads to misunderstandings, stigmas, and discrimination. To instil empathy within the workplace, organisations must educate and communicate about mental health topics actively.

 

Here’s how you can encourage the discussion of wellbeing at a workplace:

 

2. Encourage an open conversation

 

Encouraging an open conversation about mental health creates an environment where employees feel comfortable and empowered to discuss their challenges. A culture of understanding helps break down barriers that contribute to discrimination when colleagues take mental health-related absences.

 

This two-way communication involves encouraging employees to share their struggles and providing resources for colleagues to educate themselves about mental health. Workshops, webinars, and readily available sources can build a more informed and supportive work community.

 

3. Implementing flexible work policies

 

To cater to the diverse needs of employees, consider implementing flexible work policies, such as working from home. In addition to flexible work hours and remote work options, organisations should reevaluate and communicate clear policies regarding mental health-related leave. Offering a variety of options helps reduce stress and anxiety among employees and eliminates potential discrimination when staff members take time off for mental health reasons.

 

4. Establishing supportive leadership teams

 

Having well-trained leadership plays a pivotal role in shaping company culture. Leaders who actively engage with employees, demonstrating empathy and understanding during challenging times, set the tone for a supportive workplace.

Consider investing in leadership training programmes to empower managers to recognise signs of mental health struggles, address concerns sensitively, and actively foster an inclusive atmosphere within the organisation.

 

5. Introduce Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)

 

Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) are a great way of providing confidential and accessible support for employees facing mental health challenges. Actively promoting and integrating the use of EAPs ensures that staff members can access professional guidance and resources during difficult times.

Beyond EAPs, consider additional initiatives such as mental health workshops, counselling services, and wellness programmes.

 

6. Creating a Culture of Recognition and Appreciation

 

Recognising and appreciating employees’ efforts, especially during challenging times, enables a positive workplace culture. Acknowledging the impact of mental health on work-life balance and expressing gratitude for employees’ dedication contributes to a supportive environment.

 

In conclusion, employability in a workplace that prioritises the holistic wellbeing of its employees is not only ethical but very important. By embracing open communication, flexible policies, supportive leadership practices, and comprehensive mental health support programmes, organisations can proactively address colleague discrimination related to mental health absences. And, therefore, creates a workplace where everyone feels valued, supported, and empowered to thrive.

 




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