HR staff called to disclose their own mental health issues

HR managers with mental health issues should set an example and disclose their own conditions at work without being ashamed, according to the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

HR must also take the lead and ensure that official policies exist for supporting workers who are mentally ill, so they do not face discrimination at work.

The comments come as a survey of 1,070 HR professionals by charity Shaw Trust, out last week, revealed nearly two-thirds (57%) of HR staff were keeping quiet about their own mental health issues within their department because they were embarrassed or feared it could hamper their promotion prospects. Nearly one-third said they would keep a mental health condition from their line manager.

But Jill Joyce, senior policy and technical adviser at IOSH, told Personnel Today: “HR professionals are certainly in a position to set an example to other teams.”

She urged the function to develop education programmes for managers to address misconceptions about mental ill health and encourage flexible working arrangements to allow staff to take time off for treatments.

Vicki Nash, head of policy at mental health charity Mind, added that she was not surprised workers were still hiding mental health problems from employers.

“The lack of official policies to tackle discrimination and support employees with mental health conditions means they may be uncertain how their illness will be dealt with or doubt how much support they will be given,” she said.

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