HR Support for Employees With Psychological Disorders

Editor's Note: Address employee mental health issues with care.

Melissa BoyceOverview: With approximately one in five adults experiencing some type of mental health issue, employers should be prudent and take steps to address the mental well-being of their employees. Importantly, employers should ensure that that are compliant with various federal and state laws that relate to an employer’s responsibilities when dealing with an employee and his or her mental health issues.

For example, an employer must take care not to violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or equivalent state law when dealing with an employee with a mental health issue. While employers do not need to allow violent behavior, they do need to understand whether and how the ADA affects the situation. Before terminating an employee due to behavior resulting from a mental health disorder, employers should first look at ADA guidance and see what they can or cannot do.

Emergency action plans (EAPs) are another measure employers can take to assist employees who are suffering from a variety issues relating to depression, stress and other mental health issues. Through an EAP, employees can receive counseling services on a confidential basis for their mental health problems that may be affecting their professional and personal lives.

Trends: Depression and suicide have historically been significantly higher around the holidays. To help employees that may be suffering during this time, employers may want to send around information about their EAPs. Employees should also encourage employees to take advantage of all the resources and benefits in its catalog by using a wide range of forums to deliver engaging benefit messages.

Author: Melissa Gonzalez Boyce, JD, Legal Editor

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HR guidance on psychological disorders in the workplace.