By: Carrie Beckett

Today is “It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day” – which essentially means Bell will contribute 5¢ more towards mental health initiatives for every text, call, tweet, Instagram post, Facebook video view and use of the Snapchat geofilter. It’s a pretty cool initiative to see and we are definitely loving how the conversation is evolving to erase stigma.

As an HR professional we’ve seen it all. Every excuse in the book imaginable when it comes to illness or time away from work.  Which means, we haven’t always been the most empathic about mental health issues because we tend to think you’re making it up.

And while I don’t think there is one of us at Elevated that hasn’t suffered a little as it relates to mental health, it doesn’t mean that it’s even easy for us to talk about (and we’re supposed to be really good at it cause, you know, we’re HR).

That said, I want to be better at understanding it, watching for signs in myself and helping those around me. As such, I recently stumbled upon a Mental Health Continuum and realized how much sense it made in terms of “risk”.

mental health continuum

At the end of the day, we are all at different ends of the continuum at different times. If an individual is starting to display any of the signs of the continuum on a regular basis, it may be time to take appropriate action.

So, as a leader and, let’s be honest a solid HR Professional, how can we better approach Mental Health?

  1. Encourage people to talk – create an open environment where people feel able to have a dialogue about their wellbeing, and even disclose their stressors should they wish. Remember everyone’s experience of mental health stressors is different and should be respected.
  2. Avoid making assumptions – don’t try to guess what symptoms an employee might have and how these might affect their ability to do their job – many people are able to manage their varying levels of mental health and perform their role to a high standard.
  3. Respect confidentiality – remember each person’s information is confidential and sensitive and shouldn’t be shared unless given permission. Don’t pass on information unnecessarily. If your organization offers an Employee Assistance Program, provide the information and allow the employee to make the decision.
  4. Respond flexibly – because mental health stressors affect everyone in different ways and at different times in their lives, adapt your support to suit the individual. Developing a personalized action plan can help.

It’s not always easy to understand nor is it easy to talk about. And sometimes because there is no quick or simple fix -it can be even harder to support sometimes. But the success I have found is being patient and listening. And taking a step back. Yes – I understand that as a business owner or a leader in a company we have to get stuff done.

But we have to remember we’re human too.  Compassion goes a long way.

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