Added 14 March 2023

Psychological support competences in the workplace

During the Diversity Hub Breakfast – meeting about the psychological support competences in the workplace – I listened to the conversations, but I also drew conclusions from the participants’ questions. We have many dilemmas around psychological support for employees in organizations, many ideas that are not necessarily safe for employees, many ideas that are inconsistent.

What puzzles us?

1. What is the employee responsible for, what is the manager responsible for, what is the organization responsible for – where are the healthy boundaries?

We talk about it many times – that everyone is responsible for something. The employee is responsible for recognizing own problems, naming them, and seeking help, but he or she may not
have the knowledge, so education will come in handy. Or someone next to you who will say: Man, I see that something is happening to you, that you are suffering. Manager is also supposed to be able to recognize it and additionally create a plan with the employee for adaptation, survival, support – short- and long-term. The manager has a task from the level of his position, and if he/she wants and has the resources, he/she can also provide emotional support – but this may be too much of a burden – so it is an option, not an obligation.

2. How to measure the level of mental health, and whether to measure it at all? What are the implications of such measurements, how to draw conclusions from existing satisfaction measurements? Should you precisely measure the level of stress or depression in the organization?

I am personally afraid of such measurements, because what will come of it, apart from confirming the law of large numbers? We can always assume that 20% of employees currently have problems. It is better to look for other factors that indicate problems, such as the dynamics of sick leaves. Psychological research is a promise, raising awareness of needs, but it can also be a violation of employees privacy – even if it would be fully anonymous. And if it is anonymous, assume that it is like everywhere else, i.e. the law of large numbers. And the question is: what and why do we want to measure, what will we do with the obtained results?

3. How to overcome the barrier, taboo and create an organization in which it is easier for employees to talk about their mental health problems, how to create a safe place for employees?

This is a long-term plan because we are talking about cultural change, so one appeal: let’s be open – “let’s tolerate each other” doesn’t work, neither a mental health day, nor a mental health week, nor a mental health month. These topics should be on the agenda often, periodically.

Małgorzata Wypych
CEO at Mental Health Center

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