The personal and the professional

By Natalia PiknaLex Kleren

The workplace often doesn’t succeed in catching up to employee’s needs: at times, it is too involved in their lives, not allowing them to disconnect, at others, it appears oblivious to issues it can cause. From burnout to toxic productivity, our attitude to work seems due for a performance review.

According to one in five people of working age suffers from a mental illness. While this may not be directly linked to their employment, it poses the question of how the work environment may or may not contribute to the problem. Should people suffering from mental health issues receive support at work in any form? Or is the effort from companies cynical, focusing on increasing workers’ productivity? The situation on the ground does seem to be asking for some change. Naomi Sidoine, from concedes there has been "a significant increase in awareness of mental health issues in the workplace in recent years". However, according to one of their recent surveys, "only 47 per cent of employees say that their well-being is a concern for their colleagues and managers".

The search

During the recruitment process, what importance should the candidate’s mental health state hold? ADEM, the state agency in charge of the unemployed, explains that when someone registers for help with a job search, a profiling of the applicant is drawn up. Within this process, the person can disclose any factors that may hinder their professional re-integration and these can range from "a difficult family or personal situation, to health problems" Regarding mental health issues specifically, they concede this will "have a significant impact on the assessment of the jobseeker's profile and will lead the person to benefit from intensive coaching from the start of their ADEM follow-up". The support is provided by specialist counsellors, "including social workers, qualified educators and occupational psychologists, who have experience in supporting people with special needs". On the side of the employers, these "cannot ask about a candidate's mental health, nor can they take this information into account in their selection process if a candidate mentions it, " says Sidoine.

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