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Developing capabilities for managing employee mental health in the workplace Module 2: Responding to an employee mental health issue


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Title: Developing capabilities for managing employee mental health in the workplace Module 2: Responding to an employee mental health issue

Developing capabilities for managing employee
mental health in the workplaceModule 2
Responding to an employee mental health issue

Tasmanian School of Business and Economics
Learning Objectives
  • To develop an understanding of managerial
    capabilities involved in
  • becoming aware of and investigating an employee
    mental health issue
  • developing and implementing an initial response
  • ongoing management of an employees mental health
  • workplace influences on mental health
  • To develop an awareness of important legal,
    ethical, economic, situational and interpersonal
    factors that may influence managers options for
    responding to an employee mental health issue.

Ground Rules and Expectations
  • Discussions about mental health conditions and
    situations involving workplace mental health may
    be sensitive for some participants
  • Any participant who feels distressed as a result
    of discussing mental health issues is encouraged
    to speak with the facilitator
  • During todays discussions people may choose to
    disclose experiences of workplace mental health
    we ask that you dont mention employers or
    employees by name
  • Please respect the confidentiality of discussions
    arising from this learning activity

Case 1 John the bank teller
John Stage One
  • DQ1 What evidence from the case could indicate
    that John is experiencing a mental health issue?
  • Decreased mood over recent months - flat rather
    than upbeat.
  • Difficulties in concentrating and making
    decisions, appearing distracted and lost.
  • Seeking excessive guidance and checking in
    rather than using his own professional judgment.
  • Lack of interest in activities he used to enjoy.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Sleep disruptions.

  • DQ2 If Claire raises mental health as a
    potential issue, what potential outcomes could
    result from Claires conversation with John?
  • If John discloses a mental health issue it could
  • Diagnosed and he may be undergoing treatment
  • You will need to explore job accommodations and
  • adapt a performance management plan accordingly
  • This may require consultation with his treating
    professional, with Johns permission.
  • Undiagnosed he agrees that something is wrong
    but has not sought professional help
  • You will need to explore help-seeking options
  • Try to facilitate a referral before beginning to
    develop an agreement with him about his work
    duties and performance.

  • DQ 2 (continued)
  • If John does not disclose a mental health issue,
    outcomes of the conversation could include
  • He becomes angry/defensive when Claire suggests
    it might be a consideration or
  • He denies that a mental health issue is present
    and proposes other reasons for his behavior
  • In either case Claire would need to respond as
    she would in a regular performance management
    situation using supportive interpersonal
    communication and a problem solving approach.

  • DQ3 What are the performance issues resulting
    from Johns situation? How is his situation
    affecting his work performance? How is it
    affecting the other organisational members with
    whom he works?
  • Impaired work performance due to
  • Lack of focus and difficulty concentrating,
  • Reduced decision making capacity/increasing
    reliance on Claire
  • His situation is also affecting the other
    organisational members
  • They are unable to rely on his advice about
    international transactions.
  • The recent incident between John, Chris and Simon
    may create interpersonal tensions between John
    and other staff
  • Staff may now feel reluctant to raise issues with
    John in case he becomes angry again.

  • DQ4 What additional information might Claire
    need in order to determine how to manage Johns
    situation? How could she get it?
  • Whether John has discussed his situation with his
    GP or other health care provider and whether a
    mental health diagnosis has been considered.
  • Whether John has experienced any other occasions
    at work where he has felt as he did during the
    incident with Chris and Simon.
  • Information from her HR department or EAP
    provider about mental health issues (if these are
    available in her organisation).
  • For example
  • Information about the kinds of mental health
    issues that John could be experiencing and the
    workplace accommodations which could be suitable
    for Johns situation.
  • Information about her duty-of-care
    responsibilities as a manager.

  • DQ5 Develop some questions that Claire could ask
    John to determine
  • How else Johns situation might be affecting him
    at work.
  • Whether he has, or would, discuss his situation
    with a healthcare provider or counsellor.
  • The next steps Claire and John might need to take
    to address and manage his situation.

John Stage Two
  • DQ 1 What are the core requirements of Johns
  • Performing teller transactions
  • Providing account advice
  • Advising international students about
    establishing banking arrangements in Australia
  • Advising students about handling international
    banking transactions
  • Negotiating relationships with other
    international banking partners
  • Researching banking regulations
  • Liaising with legal advisors
  • Handling contract negotiations
  • Investigating the conduct and potential
    misconduct of banking partners

  • DQ2 What are the relevant legal requirements
    associated with this case?
  • Work Health Safety - Workplace is both
    physically and mentally healthy and does not
    cause ill-health or aggravate existing condition
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 ensure
    workplace does not discriminate against/harass
    employees with mental health conditions.
    Employers required to make reasonable
    adjustments to meet needs of employees with
    mental health condition.
  • Privacy legislation ensure personal information
    about a workers mental health to anyone is not
    disclosed without workers consent
  • Fair Work legislation - ensure workplace does
    not take adverse action against a worker because
    of their mental health condition

  • DQ 3 What are the skills and abilities John
    needs to perform his job? Which of these skills
    and abilities, if any, are being affected by
    Johns situation?
  • Researching and evaluating relevant legislation
    and regulatory requirements
  • Facilitating and/or contributing to detailed and
    complex contract negotiations
  • Understand banking products
  • Provide clear advice and assistance to
    international students
  • Perform telling transactions
  • Communicating effectively with colleagues (e.g.
    other tellers officer), customers, and superiors
  • John s situation is currently affecting his
    ability to
  • Focus and concentrate
  • Handle conversations/ discussions of complex
  • Antidepressant medication causing headaches and
  • Benzodiazapene is causing grogginess and problems
    with focus and concentration, especially in the

  • DQ 4 What other support needs might John have
    which could be met through workplace
  • Accommodating attendance at counseling
  • Need to manage John s exposure to triggers
  • E.g. situations in which he feels challenged or
  • Protecting Johns privacy about his depression

  • DQ 5 What adjustments could be used to
    accommodate Johns situation in the short term
    (the next 3-4 weeks) and the longer term (the
    next 3 or 4 months)? What issues could arise when
    implementing the adjustments you propose? How
    could these issues be minimised or addressed?
  • Flexible working options, including changes to
    Johns working hours and work location
  • Cover Johns absences/manage extra work load for
    other staff.
  • May need to train up other staff in Johns area
    of expertise
  • Using written documentation and records of tasks,
    work schedules and deadlines
  • Extra workload in maintaining written
    documentation may increase Johns stress and
  • John could be concerned written documentation
    could be used against him
  • However, documenting his workload and schedule
    may increase Johns feelings of control and
    therefore reduce his anxiety

  • DQ 5 (continued)
  • Providing access to a mentor or experienced
  • May not have access to a suitable mentor
  • John does not want anyone to know why he needs
  • Weekly planning and review meetings
  • Meetings could exacerbate Johns concerns that he
    could be managed out of the organisation.
  • Mechanisms for monitoring the situation and
  • Regular review meetings between John and Claire
    and John, Claire and the HR manager.
  • Accommodations should be reviewed when
    circumstances changes (e.g. Johns ceases

  • DQ 6 Implementing the accommodations you have
    proposed will require that Claire can explain to
    other organisational members (e.g. Johns
    colleagues) what is occurring and why. John does
    not want anyone in the organisation to know that
    he has depression.
  • Draft an explanation of the workplace changes
    that will be made to explain what is occurring,
    but also protects Johns privacy and concurs with
    his wishes.

John Stage Three
  • DQ 1 How much time and leeway will Claire allow
    John to meet his revised performance management
  • Will vary on case-to-case basis/no blanket answer
  • Negotiate a review time into the
    return-to-work/work adjustment plan
  • Regular check-ins to manage issues within the

  • DQ 2 How could Claire address the team dynamics
    and workload issues which have resulted from
    implementing Johns workplace accommodations?
  • Needs to discuss with John what she can tell the
  • If possible make staff aware of OHS workplace
  • Communicate with staff about the
    situation/redistribution of work (but maintained
  • Redistribution of workload as a short term

  • DQ 3 How could Claire explain the situation to
    bank headquarters?
  • Needs to discuss with John what to tell HQ
  • Balance between HQs need to know with Johns
  • Could provide opportunity to review OHS policies

  • DQ 4 What strategies could Claire use to support
    John while still maintaining professional
  • Needs to have a clear discussion with John about
    their roles and responsibilities and integrate
    these into written plan/document.
  • Emphasis support but also the importance of
  • A session with Johns counselor could also help
    to address this type of issue (if John agreed to

  • DQ 5 What strategies could Claire use to manage
    the impact that managing Johns situation has on
    her personal and professional life?
  • Agreed times that Claire is available to support
    John/strategies for other times
  • Mentoring from senior colleague (but maintain
    Johns confidentiality)
  • Self-care/stress management
  • Primary reduce/eliminate the stressor (e.g.
    clearly defined boundaries, roles and
  • Secondary personal coping strategies (at work
    v at home)
  • Tertiary professional support (e.g. EAP for

Expansion option Having a ConversationAn
example from beyondblue
  • http//

Expansion option Giving Voice to Values
Extension Case
  • http//

More Information Resources
  • Lifeline crisis support https//
  • Beyondblue
  • Depression support and information
  • E-learning programs to aid awareness of common
    mental health disorders, early intervention and
    prevention specifically designed for workplace
  • Australian Human Rights Commission - 1300 656 419
  • Information related to Federal legislation on
    human rights, anti-discrimination, social justice
    and privacy

  • Job Access 1800 464 800
  • Information for coworkers, employees and
    employers on how to assist people with
    disabilities to obtain or maintain employment
  • Safe Work Australia
  • Leads the development of national policy to
    improve work health and safety and workers
    compensation arrangements
  • Work Cover
  • please add the details for your states Work
    Cover office
  • Work Place Standards
  • please add the details for your states Work
    Place Standards office
  • Fair Work Act
  • - please add the link to your states Fair Work
  • Anti-Discrimination Act
  • - please add the link to your states
    Anti-Discrimination Act
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