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Mental Illness Detection during a RIF or Layoff Meeting

20 October
by Raymond Lee
2 minute read

According to a recent article published in the October edition of HR Magazine- Open Minds, each year, more than 41 million Americans—18 percent of the U.S. population—experience some type of mental illness, according to data released by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in December 2013.

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Globally, depression and other mental health conditions are on the rise, the World Health Organization has warned. Depression has become the world’s second-leading cause of disability, according to the latest Global Burden of Disease study published online last November in PLOS Medicine, a journal of the Public Library of Science. The SHRM article discussed ways organizations can help fight the stigma associated with mental illness as well as overcome obstacles. They also gave great examples of how organizations are creating awareness and fighting the stigma head on by creating cultures where non-judgmental conversations take place.

With these staggering statistics, mental illness should also be a concern to employers who are letting mass numbers of employees exit the company as a result of a layoff or reduction in force. The realty is employees most often times won’t disclose they are having mental health issues in fear employees or peers will treat them differently.

Below are a few tips of what not to do or say in a layoff meeting when an employee discloses they are depressed or experiencing mental illness.

  • Don’t offer a pep talk
  • Don’t say "I’ve been there" - You may not understand or relate to their illness or personal situation
  • Don’t try to give a name to the underlying issue
  • Don't try to fix the situation

Consider utilizing your employee assistance provider (EAP) to assist in the mass layoff or reduction in force planning process so you are equipped to recognize potential problems that may occur. For more information on "Mental Illness Detection during a RIF or Layoff Meeting", consider attending a RIF Notification Training webinar scheduled on November 5th at 2:00PM ET.

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