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The understanding of mental health and dysfunctional dynamics in the workplace is crucial in order to be able as HR, managers and claims assessors to plan and implement an appropriate, efficient and cost-effective course of action.

For this purpose centre has developed a useful framework which you will find below that summarises the most common psychological difficulties that affect the workforce combined with general suggestions on what can be done about it.

It is however very important to view this framework as a canvass which HR, managers and claims assessors can use to rotientate themselves on mental health problems at work.

It is certainly not an alternative to seeking professional advice and services from specialists in the field of mental health, organisational consultancy and employment law.

Providing specialist advice and services to employers and insurers is what centre does.

Mental health and psychological problems can affect employees at three levels:

Level 1

An employee may suffer from persistent mental health difficulties leading to sick leave, inability to cope with work pressures, poor performance and serious difficulties in relating to others.

Mental health conditions at Level 1 include:

  • clinical depression
  • personality disorders
  • anxiety disorders
  • substance misuse
  • addictive behaviours
  • chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)/myalgic encephalopathy (ME)

HR and managers should consider managing these mental health problems in the workplace through clinical and organisational options.

It is also important that the management of this level of mental health conditions should be well thought out as early as possible, as things can be made worse by adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach along with unrealistic hopes that serious psychological problems will melt away. At the other extreme, rushing into psychological performance management and disciplinary procedures without having a proper longer-term management and clinical strategy in place can be costly and counterproductive.

Level 2

An employee may experience psychological difficulties which, however serious, are time-limited with a good potential for recovery, particularly if the employee receives early specialist treatment or support. If necessary this is combined with time-limited work adjustments.

Mental health conditions at Level 2 include:

  • adjustment disorders, such as moderate clinical depression following a stressful life event
  • bereavement
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Level 3

Your employee has psychological difficulties that do not amount to mental health conditions, nor do they require specialist clinical intervention or significant work adjustments. However, if not addressed, these difficulties may develop into clinical conditions belonging to Level 1 or 2. These include:

  • ‘stress’ due to personal and work pressures
  • mild anxiety and depressed mood
  • difficulties in managing personal and professional relationships

You can help your employee with a range of short-term forms of psychological support and educational  and self-help packages.