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By Breeonne Baxter on September 17, 2015
For the HR Community of Practice
This article is for all managers and academic leaders/heads in finding resources and support for supporting your employees around mental health issues.
Did you know that 44% of workers say they have or have had issues with mental health? (source: Conference Board of Canada, Building Mentally Healthy Workplaces, Perspectives of Canadian Workers and Front-Line Managers, June 2011)
Most of us have experienced mental health issues at some point in our lives. There are a wide range of issues that people experience, such as depression, alcohol/substance use, and anxiety.
For some people, dealing with mental health issues or illness can be unsettling or even frightening. A lack of understanding about mental health issues or illness from those around us and in our society can lead to feelings of fear and stigma. Fear and shame from this stigma often prevent those suffering from mental health issues or illness from seeking help. When a team member is in distress or is struggling, unfamiliarity about how to approach the situation may prevent us from providing appropriate help.
Only 23% of employees would talk about their mental illness with their employers. (source: Canadian Medical Association, 2008, 8th annual report card on national health care). According to the 2014 UBC Workplace Engagement Survey (WES) results, only 51% of staff and 38% of faculty feel comfortable raising issues around their mental health with their manager or supervisor.
As a manager or leader, sometimes you may notice that a team member is struggling. Other times, a team member may approach you to let you know they are experiencing struggles that are impacting their work. In these situations, creating a safe and supportive work environment that practices respectful conversations can help the team member to feel comfortable and motivated to remain at work and continue to be productive.
Candid, respectful conversations with a positive outcome as the goal, is the best method. Managers and colleagues can focus on having safe and supportive conversations with a team member. There are a number of resources that can help you in having these conversations, and to reduce anxiety in approaching a conversation when someone may be struggling with mental health issues or illness.
Shepell, UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider, offers telephone workplace consultations with respect to mental health issues. This is a hands-on approach to problem solving that is meant to supplement (not take the place of) the information and guidance that you receive from your UBC Human Resources Advisor/Faculty Relations Manager. This resource can help you to approach difficult conversations more effectively, and to tackle tough situations that you are not quite sure how to handle, to effectively support team members who are struggling.
Managers and academic leaders can contact their HR Advisor/FR Manager for advice on how best to manage a particular situation if a faculty or staff member is struggling due to mental health issues or illness. Supervisors may not be exposed to policies, processes, laws, and best practices as they relate to handling such issues, so contacting the HR Advisor/FR Manager for support and assistance can be helpful.
The HR Advisor/FR Manager can also make sure that all parties are connected with the Return To Work/Remain At Work program (Vancouver campus) or the WRAP program (Okanagan campus) as required, the appropriate union representatives who can provide assistance (if applicable and appropriate), counselling services available from the EFAP Program, and online resources.
In the world of organizational development, coaching has become the most effective tool to accelerate results in learning and professional development and building engaged workplaces and lives.
Coaching @ UBC offers FREE 1-on-1 professional coaching services for staff and faculty, quarterly coaching workshops through our MOST Program and a Practicum Program to integrate coaching skills and learning.
A number of programs are available to managers/heads as an individual, or as part of a team in the workplace:
Responding with Respect is a free three-hour training developed in a partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association and UBC Human Resources. It will help faculty and staff to recognize the symptoms of anxiety and depression in the workplace, respond in an empathetic and productive way and also refer themselves or their colleagues to appropriate resources.
This workshop, produced in collaboration with the Canadian Mental Health Association, provides participants with the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, family members, friends or colleagues.
(available during Thrive week Nov. 2-6, 2015)
This year during Thrive, UBC is partnering with the Not Myself Today Campaign, an initiative focused on reducing stigma and supporting mental health in the workplace.
This year’s partnership with Not Myself Today is designed to provide departments with a ready-made and easy-to-use action plan for participating in Thrive Week. Join us in celebrating diversity, community and respect as colleagues at UBC.
Responding with Respect is a free, three-hour training developed in a partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association and UBC Human Resources. It will help faculty and staff to recognize the symptoms of anxiety and depression in the workplace, respond in an empathetic and productive way and also refer themselves or their colleagues to appropriate resources.
This workshop, in collaboration with the Canadian Mental Health Association, provides participants with the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, a family member, a friend or a colleague.
If you are interested learning more about Responding with Respect or Mental Health First Aid, please contact Tracey Hawthorn, Okanagan campus, for more information at 250-807-8183 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional mental health support is available: