QUESTION: I want to ensure that my team works in a stable, good environment. I want to learn how to pick out employees with mental health problems. From your expertise, does mental health differ across various demographic groups?
You have asked at least four important questions in a single swipe, and it is therefore imperative for us to cover all the issues briefly in the space allocated to us. Firstly, and for the sake of simplicity however, let me state that some knowledge of psychology will stand you in good stead at the workplace and I would encourage you to register for one of the many programs available in the local universities.
You might surprise yourself by the number of quality programmes on offer. You might also find a suitable one online.
On the matter of negotiating salary upwards, you would be well advised to demonstrate skills and commitment in the job that you already have before asking for a raise. Currently, are formal tools for measuring your work performance and these would be most helpful to you in bargaining for the pay rise.
Many employers these days are using these performance management tools to objectively evaluate staff for promotion. I can only hope that objective criteria are in place in the organisation where you work.
You also wish to ensure that your team works in a stable and good environment. For that, you may require the expertise of a management consultant to establish ways in which you can best deploy the team members and more to your point, ensure that the team works in a stable and efficient manner.
Assigning staff to take up roles that match their skills might be what you are looking to do. Depending on the size and complexity of the organisation you will decide on the resources that you are able to apply to this all-important aspect of managing your workplace.
In the same question, you seek to know how to pick out employees who have mental health problems. I will assume that you want to pick them out so that you can ensure that they get the help that they might need, and not, as some employers do, which is to identify such people for demotion or for letting go.
A good place to start is finding a team of mental health professionals who offer this service. You could for example ask your HR team to get in touch with the Institute of Human Resources Management which is a government arm that would help you navigate this most important aspect of business.
IHRM as it is called is professionally run and is mandated to assist organizations that desire to improve their HR skills and align them to modern methods.
With their help, you would be able to find organizations that they work with, not only for the development of Employee Assistance Programs, but also training programs for managers on how to recognize the early signs of common mental disorders and how to deal with them in the Kenyan setting.
Finally, you ask if mental health is different between the different demographic groups. The simple answer is yes. For example, children’s mental health profiles are different from those of adults and those of young women are different from those of the elderly in general.
As you are asking the question in the work context, two examples are appropriate. Women in the childbearing age are sometimes the victims of ignorance and prejudice at work for two conditions that are beyond their control.
One is associated with their menses and is a condition known as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Some of the common symptoms that might upset the insensitive employer include, fatigue, irritability, depression and anxiety. Not all women go through this type of condition.
The other condition that is condition and sadly neglected, is postnatal depression which affects up to 15 percent of women in the first year after delivery. Some employers are perplexed and mismanage such demographics and it is precisely this kind of education that would be given to those exposed to mental health training at the workplace.
There are other groups of workers who might pose a challenge to the employer because of the fact of developing certain types of mental health needs. Men in their 40s and early 50s sometimes go through a type of middle life crisis that could present as challenges at the workplace sometimes due to the excess use of alcohol and marital difficulties.
Yours is a set of work-related mental health issues that do not have one answer but there is a growing interest in mental health in Kenya.