Mental illness: hidden opportunities for managers

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Millions across the globe suffer from some or the other kind of mental illness. And believe it or not some of the well-known personalities of the world were sufferers themselves including the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill et al. Even with such a case in place, mental illnesses are more often than not misunderstood leading to chaos and lack of decent living opportunities for these suffers.

Anyone can suffer from mental illness and in most cases they are different from mental retardation and mental disability. This calls for a special approach to be followed by an organization on a larger scale and managers on ground levels. Since people can suffer from such illnesses during the time of employment, looking beyond the obvious is the right approach for managers. Here are some ways in which it could be turned into opportunities for both the sides:

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Following the right approach

Change in the attitude is the first step in looking out for a win-win solution in case of mental illness and working.  It is a myth that people suffering from mental illness are not productive and they cannot deal with stress that comes with any job. They could, on the other hand, be some of the most creative people and could well deal with stress just as much as any normal human being can. Besides thinking that mental illness makes a person disable is false. They too can have good work life as long as proper support is given in their workplace. All in all, just brushing aside any employee  because of mental illness would be morally as well as professionally wrong.

Re-employment is possible

Managers must understand that an employee does not become eligible for end of employment just because they suffer from some mental illness. Since a fully recovery is possible in many cases, it is not advisable to lose any good employee because of stigmatization alone. A few changes in time structure, target setting, workplace environment and inclusion in social and team efforts, could act in positive for such patients and organizations.

Protection laws are present

Discrimination and stigmatization based on mental illness are the wrong things to do. But, it is not just about moral steps anymore. Most of the countries have laws in place that provide protection to such suffers and make it imperative for managers to keep policies that provide equal opportunities at the workplace. For example, The Americans with Disabilities Act, provides protection against any kind of discrimination in the workplace even for the people with mental illness.

Help is present

Help is readily available for those managers and organizations who would want to use it for providing gainful opportunities to the mentally ill. These come in the form of private as well as many government-aided institutions and research papers. Judicious use of these resources could help with using the abilities of such patients for the betterment of the organization and also helping in their recovery. In some studies, it has been seen that medications given to such patients can in fact help in increasing their productivity.

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