Mental health issues affect roughly 25% of adults in the U.S., so it’s likely that at some point you will have a dealership employee who suffers from mental illness. However, accommodating mental health can be a delicate matter, as there can be legal implications if you handle the matter out of turn. If you assume an employee has a mental health issue, before it has been disclosed, and treat the individual as disabled, you are breaching the law. So what do you do?
There are a variety of ways to handle mental illness. Firstly, if the illness hasn’t been disclosed, simply document any odd or poor behavior that is violating the company’s workplace violence policy, or if the behavior is affecting performance or operation. Always support your employee, and be certain to ask open-ended questions about how they are. If the employee does disclose mental illness, make sure to follow policy: keep the information as confidential as possible and follow the obligations under ADA policy to accommodate the employee. Most importantly, is the employee looking for accommodation or simply sharing the information? Simply support your employee and their needs- accommodate their schedule and, if they desire it, provide them with any information they may need on an employee assistance program. Communicate with them and encourage them to work with Human Resources as they need to.