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Source: Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace- Managing Mental Health Matters:
The discussion you have with your staff member should focus on performance issues, in order to protect you from straying into areas that may violate your staff member's privacy and human rights. The conversation may have elements of outreach, intervention or disclosure, but these should be only possible by-products of your main focus. You should not share assumptions with your staff member, but instead, stick to the facts. This keeps the discussion outcome focused and objective.
Workplaces have the responsibility to accommodate special needs and disabilities. In order to accommodate, information needs to be shared, and this is done best in an atmosphere of openness and support.
In most cases, the best approach is to meet with the person privately to discuss your concerns about their work-related performance. If you have any concerns about your safety, or your ability to handle the conversation, speak to your management supports (HR Partner) before the meeting.
It is important that you:
But there are some things you should not say or do:
At the end of your meeting you may be convinced that your staff member does indeed have a mental health concern. Still, we suggest that you do not infer or hint at this. Remain focused on performance. You may bring up the issue of accommodation in a general way, as part of staff member education.
If your staff member chooses to discuss personal issues with you, including the possible discussion of a mental illness, we suggest that you use your active listening skills to allow the staff member to share. You may at this time inquire into specific ideas the staff member may have about accommodation.
You will want to follow-up with the staff member, or designate someone who can follow-up on your behalf. Keep your notes on the meeting in a secure location. A locked filing cabinet and password-protected computers are essential to maintaining your staff member's confidentiality.
We acknowledge that this conversation can be difficult for most supervisors. Mental Health Works training helps you to be better prepared and to increase your comfort and skill at addressing these complex issues.
Also consider the following:
If the staff member's performance has not improved by the time you meet again after the designated period, and there has been no request for accommodation or leave, it would be appropriate only at that point to consider disciplinary action.
The staff member may not specifically disclose a disability to you, but may seek help from the EAP provider or from a community service provider (such as a doctor, psychologist, or counsellor). After receiving professional help, the staff member might decide to put in a request for workplace accommodation.
Your staff member may not know, or may refuse to acknowledge, that they have a mental health problem. In that case, there may be little you can do to help them. At this point, focusing on work performance is the best approach.