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Communicate with mentally affected employee: Dr Rajesh Sagar

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 Rohit Shishodia
Communicating with a mentally disturbed employee in a workplace, showing compassion and empathy, can be therapeutic. This can also mean an increase in productivity.

Not taking interest in work, repeated mistakes, missing deadlines, repeated pleas for leave and consumption of alcohol are some signs of mental illness in an employee, says Dr Rajesh Sagar, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS, on the occasion of Word Mental Health Day. The theme this year is “Mental health in work place”.

“Certain steps, such as proper communication with employees suffering from various mental disorders, asking them to get treatment, not harassing or bullying them, could be helpful for the organization's productivity, and it can also foster better relationship between employees and the employer,” adds Dr Sagar.

"There is hardly any discussion on mental health in organizations. We have to educate the hierarchy of staff about mental health programs in companies. In fact, the job not only provides a salary but also gives you a social status in society. Working has a positive side to it. It is essential for self esteem too," explains Dr Sagar.

"There is a wrong perception among employers that a mentally ill person cannot work properly. If he or she gets treatment, he will surely work and could be productive for the company. We should not label a person as 'mental'. We have to come out of this perception," adds Dr Sagar

“You have to think about a person who is suffering from mental illness. Firstly, he is already affected with mental illness and it is not clear if his family is supportive. And then, if he faces humiliation in the office too, what would happen to him? You have to imagine his condition from this point of view. We have to support him,” he explains.

Dr Sagar points out that it is the duty of the employer to educate such a person or provide him treatment. We must encourage him and not discourage him. Being his friend, you can talk to him.

“You have to understand that a job is such a thing where the employer has an advantage. If an employee works with good mental health, he would be more productive. Efficiency would also increase. This will benefit the company. Employer has to think as head of the family,” says Dr Sagar.

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