Great Minds: Hamish and Kyle – On mental health issues in the workplace

Hamish and Kyle discuss the best way to support colleagues with mental health issues. Video / NZ Herald

In this web series, psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald and Nutters Club co-host Hamish Williams examine mental health and how to navigate some of the toughest parts of modern life. Today they talk about how to cope with work.

Mental health as a topic of discussion has come a long way in the past decade. As public debate has opened up, many people have also developed a range of mental health tools to deal with the reality of our daily lives.

As wonderful as mental health initiatives are – not to mention the feel-good factor we all feel in giving a platform to these issues – there remains fear and misunderstanding on many fronts, and none more imposing than in the workplace.

Suppose I have my own mental health issue and I know it could affect my job performance. Before that happens, I need to change a few things. Maybe I need time to see a counselor or maybe I could structure my workday differently. All of these options sound reasonable to me, but what about my employer? They will have it, won’t they? What could be worse?

More than the fear of being judged, it is the fear of endangering our income. Job uncertainty is a terrible feeling at the best of times, but when it comes to something as deeply personal as our mental health, having a plan that considers all parties involved is a good thing. departure.

“Take into account that before you tell your employer, they probably didn’t know about it,” says psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald. “You also don’t have to disclose health conditions at work, you have no say, but if you do, honesty is the best policy.”

A medical certificate if you need a few days off is excellent security. But be clear with your workplace and tell them what you need. It could be time off to see a therapist, or a little more consideration for the stress or pressures of work.

On the other hand, there are fears an employer might have. It’s easy to feel inexperienced and unqualified to help manage someone’s mental health. Making sure an employee feels valued in the first place is vital and the fastest way to do that is to listen.

“As an employer, it’s as simple as asking how you might be able to help, and then listening to what it involves,” says MacDonald. “In most cases, rest assured that conditions such as anxiety or depression can be managed with the right tools. Many people find that with the development of better coping mechanisms, it does not affect their work.”

Mental health issues are fully treatable with a combination of therapy, lifestyle changes and, if necessary, medication.

Workplaces that support their employees have the opportunity to create a culture that not only builds mental health literacy, but also demonstrates to their employees that when they face life’s inevitable challenges, they will be there for them. And who wouldn’t work in a place like this?

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