9 Pro Tips to Manage Mental Health Issues as a Recruiter

Despite the adoption of open conversation about mental health issues, the stigma around it continues. The best way you can help candidates or employees facing such issues is by learning more about different issues and knowing how to deal with them effectively.

Mental illness is still the stickiest of issues in the workplace. Any kind of discussion or even admission to conditions, such as anxiety or depression, instantly distances the individual from their colleagues or anyone in their professional network. It is a sad part that when the person needs help and supports the most, they are distanced from their colleagues and peers.

In recruitment, it is the big grey area, which no one seeks to explore: candidates, employers, recruiters, and no one else. But it is important to sensitise yourself with this reality that mental health issues are a reality at the workplace. Modern work environment provides very few opportunities to maintain a healthy work-life balance. This disbalance, more often, forms the crux of the mental illness among employees. Therefore, you should learn how to manage mental health as a recruiter, as you will be interacting and engaging with employees and candidates more often as part of your job. And, understanding their actual situation may help you find the right solutions.

To make things easier for you, in this article, we have shared some important tips on how to manage mental health as a recruiter.

  1. Educate yourself

As a recruiter, the primary thing you could do is read up on more information about mental health issues and educate yourself on the subject. Gather the most recent findings on different mental health issues faced by the workforce, such as panic attacks, anxiety and depression. Learn to identify the symptoms and signs of mental health issues in people.

Once you are able to successfully recognize the possible mental health issues in individuals, you will need to learn the best techniques to help those people cope with their issues. Refrain from offering any kind of medical advice on mental issues, as you are not a qualified mental health specialist. However, having a proper understanding of the problem will teach you how to appropriately react to someone who is struggling with mental issues.

  1. Try to be considerate

Always be considerate while handling employee mental health issues. Remember, good employees care for the company. So, don’t try to make them feel responsible for being obligated towards the job when they are facing a troubling condition, rather, make an effort to make them feel more included in the organization. What a little concerted effort you can change the outcome of the situation and make it positive.

There are instances wherein one sincere conversation with the employee has brought about a sea change in their behaviours and conduct at work, resulting in a transformed employee with higher efficiency and productivity. In this case, both the employer and the employee were rewarded as a result of a simple communication activity. And, what was initially misunderstood quickly changed into a collective or combined effort for the overall betterment of the person and organization.

  1. Encourage them to be honest

If you come across a candidate who is professionally accomplished but not very mentally fit, encourage them to have an open conversation about their problem. Sometimes, open communication can help solve most of the issues. Maybe they are unable to share their problems, which could be further leading them into depression. And, frank communication can bring them much needed relief. In fact, after listening to their problem, you may be able to offer them some solutions based on your knowledge, understanding and experiences.

  1. Reserve judgement

As a recruiter, what would you do if you found out that a candidate is mentally unwell? At first impulse, you might think about dropping him or her, but that is not the right thing to do. Consider this, why is the employee with the company in the first place? They are here because they have done something desirable to reach their current position. So, professionally, they are achievers. They are an asset for the organization and not a liability. Therefore, do not pass judgments on face value. You are, after all, a recruitment specialist and not a mental health specialist to precisely determine that the employee’s mental health status is an impediment to the company.

Professionals should be primarily identified by their accomplishments rather than their undesirable qualities. The main criticism that most recruiters face is their propensity to speak on topics or subjects they are not experts in. This also applies to scenarios wherein one passes judgement on an employee or a new candidate suffering from a mental issue. Therefore, a recruiter should not pass biased judgments based on the personal attributes of the employee.

  1. Be honest and human

If you work with a recruitment agency, this is for you. Forwarding a candidate who has mental health issues to the client can ruin your reputation as a recruiter. Will the hiring company contact you again for a different candidate after the first one went on an emotional ride? Most probably not. Moreover, while you may be tolerant with issues related to mental health, the client may share a different opinion. Because candidates with mental issues may not be productive for an organization requiring their professionals to be motivated and inspired in order to perform well at work.

Therefore, precisely understand the tone or the nature of the job role before hiring such a candidate, or else you could end up sending the candidate on a rough ride with the company. As a recruiter, you must be able to read the possible job behaviours and needs of both the client as well as the candidate, as this would be central to your recruiting process. Apply your social and interpersonal skills and rely more on intuition. Be human with the suffering candidate and be honest with your client.

  1. Avoid fear as a bait

Attitudes towards mental health issues are changing across the world. Many charities and NGOs are now actively involved in helping and supporting individuals who are diagnosed as mentally unstable. This has greatly improved their working and living conditions. Furthermore, the gap between the employees and employers about mental health problems is closing, resulting in more open and fair discussions on the topic. It is about time that you treat mental health issues very sensitively.

An open and frank conversation between the employer and the candidate on what they expect from the candidate, the business’ expectations, and how the candidate regards the job role, should help both parties understand each other better. Ideally, this should bring in normalcy to the relationship between them, and any indication of unprofessionalism must be viewed from within the gambit of the job description, and none should question the personal condition of the individual.

  1. Give options

As an employer, when you notice the mental illness in a particular employee, you should not necessarily encourage them to acceptingly settle into a normal office environment. After all, no individual would want to get stuck in a particular pattern. What you could rather do is offer them some flexibility in terms of working hours and lessen their workload. This will allow the employee some time to figure out their situation and they will find a solution to the problem.

When all your options get exhausted and the condition of the employee does not improve, only then should you suggest to them the option of considering leaving the company.

  1. Know what to do and what not to do

As a recruiter, it is important to know what to do and what not to do to make the situation better or worse for the employee struggling with mental health issues. Knowing how to react and handle a situation will help you approach the problem more appropriately and provide the necessary solutions. So, make sure that you are already equipped to handle such situations in a productive way. This will not just bring comfort to the ill employee but will also help you achieve a positive outcome from the entire episode.

  1. Learn about preventive methods

Majority of mental health problems can be prevented with the help of a proper work-life balance. When you talk with candidates, be certain to emphasize the significance of rest and balance in daily life. Discuss the importance of proper sleep and how it positively impacts the performance at work. Try to teach or instruct the candidates on the best methods of keeping themselves mentally fit and healthy to prosper in their jobs.

Despite the adoption of open and frank conversation in companies about mental health issues, the stigma around this issue continues. The best way you can help candidates or employees facing such issues is by learning more about different issues and knowing how to deal with the mental health problems among employees and candidates more effectively.

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