How to Effectively and Sensitively Address Employee Mental Health

Many people battle with some form of mental illness, but generally, employees won’t disclose a diagnosis, while maintaining positive behaviors and high levels of productivity. However, there are instances where employees show signs of mental illness that are disruptive and counterproductive, and some employees may request special accommodations in order to maintain a healthy and productive level of work.

There’s a fine line between being supportive and invading an employee’s privacy. In addition to protecting your business with New Jersey Business Insurance, make sure that your management has an understanding of how to sensitively and legally address employee mental health.

Due Diligence

Conducting due diligence before hiring someone is worth your while. Often people leave a trail of disruptive behaviors that gets overlooked. A third-party background check won’t reveal whether an individual is toxic. You may learn whether the applicant has a criminal record or where they worked, but that’s only part of the story. What you really need to know requires deeper investigation.

Get a sense of the individual by speaking to colleagues or past employers. Skip HR, since they’re trained to only share basic info, like names and employment dates. Put in more effort in finding out whether that person is decent in the workforce, to avoid future issues.

Employee Rights

Employees must be unable to do their job over time to warrant termination. If the employee suffers from a debilitating mental illness then the degree requiring an employer to protect a job is based on a person’s prognosis, valuable skills, and the hardship of holding the job.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.

Those who have mental illnesses who qualify for disability under the definition of the law cannot be terminated if they can perform the functions of their position. The company would need to accommodate the employee if they have a covered disability.

Values and Conduct

Patterns of behavior are typically the same, so it’s dependent upon a good employer or progressive employer to identify warning signs of someone who is in trouble. When something has changed, check in on your employee. Consider the benefits of these items:

  • Code of conduct, providing a clear outline designed to assist employees to understand the rules of the road.
  • Policy on respect in the workplace.
  • Statement that speaks to your values or guiding principles.


When an employee is not performing, there is a process of analysis. What to consider:

  • Is it a training or coaching issue?
  • Is something going is on that would cause me to refer them to a counselor?
  • Find out how they’re doing and help with a counselor, Employee Assistance Program, or other resources.

Speak to the employee with a fact-finding and problem-solving manner. Assume good intent make sure the employee gets connected to the right resources.

About Provident Protection Plus

At Provident Protection Plus, we have served the businesses and residents of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania for more than 65 years. We are a wholly owned subsidiary of Provident Bank, the region’s premier banking institution, and we are prepared to offer you personal, business, employee benefit, and risk management solutions. To learn more about our coverage options, contact our specialists today at (888) 990-0526.