Managing Mental Illness in the Workplace: A Practical Guide for Supervisors
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Issues surrounding the management of mental illness in the workplace have become more pressing for employers over the past decade. To date, the impact of mental illness in the workplace has not been adequately documented or described. While individual supervisors and managers often have painful and complicated stories to tell, there has not yet been a significant body of literature to guide the supervisory management of mental illness in the workplace. This is a guide for supervisors and, as such, attempts to provide a roadmap through the often overwhelming and confusing experience of workplace management of employees with a mental illness. The purpose of this guide is to help supervisors to respond sensitively and effectively to instances when an employee may be suffering a mental illness in the workplace. The content of this guide has been developed from ongoing workplace consultation, interviews with employers, and a review of the literature addressing disability, mental illness, and the best practices for human resource policy. The guide is divided into two sections. The first discusses the issues, the challenges, and the policy and legal implications facing managers, employees, and the entire workgroup when an employee suffers from a mental illness. The second section is devoted to recommending to supervisors a seven-step process for handling managerial situations when they arise. Before beginning, let’s examine the magnitude of the experience of mental illness. How common is mental illness? How likely are supervisors to encounter mental illness in their immediate workgroup? What should and can they do about it?