Supporting Employees on A Mental Health Leave: not as confusing as it once was

Any type of leave can present challenges to employees, their co-workers and their leaders. As a leader, the most important thing you can do is support the employee through each stage of the leave to ensure a successful return. Mental Health conditions are no exception to this rule, however, they can pose an additional challenge if employers feel unsure about how to communicate with their staff.

Here are some pointers to help navigate the disability process:

Before your employee leaves

  • Foster an inclusive culture for people with mental health issues. Work to remove any stigma that may exist and focus on inclusion and support.
  • At the beginning of a leave, ask the employee how they’d like you to keep in touch while they’re away, and how often.
  • Communication is key. If the employee is open to staying connected, do it!
  • Ensure the leaving employee understands the benefits offered to help them cope with mental health issues.

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What you can do while they’re away

  • Let the employee decide how much they want to share about their condition. Private employees may not want to share, but others may find open discussions help their progress.
  • If the employee chooses to keep in touch, follow up as planned.
  • Make sure if their medical or health expenses are included in the employee benefits or group benefits plan from your company

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When an employee returns to the workplace

  • When your employee is ready to return to work, set up a meeting at a time that works for them, to brief them on any changes, updates or reintegration information they may need.
  • Create a workplace that can help prevent relapse: inclusion, awareness, open discussions are important.
  • Nurture a culture of support and prevention. Focus on the benefits available to help all employees deal with mental health situations.
  • Avoid making assumptions: every person is different and there are no one size fits all approach. Be flexible and adaptive to what your workplace requires. Also, it’s important for your employees to fully understand how much help they can get from the Group Benefits or Employee Benefits Plan you provide.

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One Simple Move Can Change the Whole Situation

There’s a strong link between unhealthy workplaces, work-related stress, and unhealthy lifestyles. By taking an active role in supporting an employee on leave, you’ll not only be an effective leader, but also a valued partner on your employee’s path to wellness and success. By providing your employees with what they really need (no matter if it’s the new employee benefits or Group Benefit plan), your business will grow to be healthier and more stable. Because it’s a big move to show that your organization cares about its people! Core Benefits always supports every decision you make for your company and employees.