How to support staff who are experiencing a mental health problem

  • Occupational Health
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World heavyweight champion Tyson Fury is just the latest boxer to suffer mental health issues. Ricky Hatton, Oscar de la Hoya and Frank Bruno were all larger-than-life characters in the ring, battling demons away from the lights. After withdrawing from his title defence against Wladimir Klitschko in September, Fury revealed he had been suffering with depression and had abused alcohol and cocaine since winning his world titles. Former world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan has called for a foundation to be set up to support boxers away from the ring who are dealing with mental health issues. Away from the boxing world, it is also important that employers provide support to employees who are dealing with mental health issues. The most beneficial way of supporting an employee with a mental health condition is to firstly set up a meeting with the individual. This meeting will give you the opportunity to assess how the employee is at the moment, any medications or health and safety concerns that as an employer you need to be aware of and support they may need. This meeting will ensure any support and adjustments are put in place. Any risk assessments that might be required to be carried out can be done so at this meeting. It will help you as an employer ensure that you are not giving your employee too much. One of the possible outcomes of this meeting is the potential to assess whether an Occupational Health Assessment may be of benefit, these are independent and impartial detailed fitness to work assessments which will go into further detail regarding the job description and the employee’s current capabilities given the medical condition, the report will make recommendations regarding possible adjustments in the work place if these are advisable and reasonable to implement, for example, more rest breaks may be appropriate, altered hours to accommodate medication side effects etc. Accessing and considering what you can do to support the employee to allow them to remain in the role will also ensure that if your employee may been considered to have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 that you are also meeting your obligation from a duty of care perspective to consider making reasonable adjustments within the work place. What an Occupational Health assessment can also do is consider the employee’s current capabilities and recommend a phased return to work; this is a gradual return to contracted hours over an agreed period of time. Sometimes the employee’s own GP/treating specialist will recommend a phased return to work and therefore Occupational Health can assess the employee to determine exactly what is recommended within the realms of the job role. This should also be reviewed at regular intervals to ensure that the employee is managing with the phased increase in work hours.

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