HUMAN Capital - Winter 2013 - (Page 34)

FEATURE Addressing the Gap between Mental Health and Workplace Fairness Policy and Practice BY MARJORIE MUNROE, C.MED., CTP, MORGAN CRAIG-BROADWITH, AND SHELLY PTOLEMY, RN, OHNC, CHRP, CHSC Workplace. There is a clear business case for adopting these standards. Th is article will use two Alberta case studies to compare resulting business outcomes and Workplace Fairness with different approaches to Mental Health policy and practice. The Case Studies ISTOCK/THINKSTOCK In Case Study A, we meet Dan, a unionized employee whose short-term disability leave interferes with his ability to focus on treatment. In Case Study B, we meet Julia, a 20-year employee with a high level of responsibility on a leadership team whose workplace support enables her to address a long-term mental health issue. RECOGNIZING THAT DIVERSITY INCLUDES more than simply culture, employers who are forward-thinking and careful to include supports and awareness for mental health in their diversity and inclusion policies and discussion will be rewarded with increased engagement and workplace participation. In 2012, the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health & Addiction released Psychological Health and Safety: An Action Guide for Employers. The Action Guide is based on the idea of protecting employees' psychological health and safety, and provides a map for employers through six Ps: Policy, Planning, Promotion, Prevention,  Process and Persistence. The  Action Guide was followed by the release in January 2013 of the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the 34 O These two case studies are collated from different real scenarios. While names have been changed and the actual workplaces disguised, they represent a very real sample of Alberta workplace experiences with mental health issues. Case Study A Dan, a unionized employee, worked in a safety sensitive position. A single parent of a young child, with minimal support outside of work, Dan started to miss shifts at work. It started out slowly, but became more regular; on some days he would leave before his shift ended. Management received complaints from Dan's co-workers about his alcohol use and behaviour at work. Management engaged in the classic "waitand-see" approach, leaving Dan to his own devices. As an employee in a safety-sensitive position with an assumed substance abuse problem, this approach put both Dan's and his co-workers' lives in jeopardy. Instead of asking Dan what was going on, the management team chose to address Dan's performance. During this meeting Dan was strongly encouraged to take short-term disability leave, a typical first step when addressing a mental illness at work. Unfortunately, managers often do not know how to effectively discuss and address these issues and thus, would rather it be voided from the conversation. As the saying aptly says, "out of sight, out of mind." Yet, this wasn't the solution for Dan, at least not initially. The low weekly indemnity benefit rate interfered with his ability to focus on treatment. His physician, not wanting Dan to experience the added strain of fi nancial instability, continued to clear him for return-to-work, but Dan couldn't sustain work for any length of time. Dan sustained many failed return-to-work attempts, which undoubtedly impacted his mental illness and his relationships at work and home. Dan's managers didn't know how to proceed with an accommodation. While the resident occupational health nurse worked closely to make the transitions more fluid, the limited support from the management team, the lack of compliance from Dan, his lack of insight into his illness and inability to stick with a treatment plan made it an almost impossible feat. Yet after almost two years of persistence, Dan finally accepted his illness and received five weeks of rehabilitation for his addiction. He has now returned to work but the situation remains tenuous. The relationship between Dan and his manager and team needs time to heal. Repairing damaged relationships takes considerable

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of HUMAN Capital - Winter 2013

Leadership Matters
Association News
Economic Pulse
Temporary Foreign Workers
Technology and Innovation in Talent Management
The Beat and the Pulse
Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling
Culture and Communication
Hr Legalease
Improving the Lives of Albertans
How to Make Diversity and Inclusion More Than Just Lip Service
Addressing the Gap Between Mental Health and Workplace Fairness Policy and Practice
Index of Advertisers/

HUMAN Capital - Winter 2013