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New manual seeks to help managers deal with mental illness in workplace

In recent years, the issues surrounding mental illness in the workplace have confused and frustrated supervisors, managers and employees alike. Many organizations — forced to balance diverse legal, organizational and employee demands — have often found themselves struggling with paralysis or discontent in the workplace.

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AUSTIN, Texas —In recent years, the issues surrounding mental illness in the workplace have confused and frustrated supervisors, managers and employees alike. Many organizations — forced to balance diverse legal, organizational and employee demands — have often found themselves struggling with paralysis or discontent in the workplace.

To address this problem, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health is distributing free copies of its latest publication, Managing Mental Illness in the Workplace: A Practical Guide for Supervisorsto individuals and organizations across the state.

Written by Rita Handrich, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist at The University of Texas at Austin’s Employee Assistance Program, the manual is designed to provide employers and supervisors with a roadmap through the often overwhelming and confusing experience of managing employees who may have a mental illness.

In particular, the guide explains the factors surrounding workplace mental health issues, clarifies the impact of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and offers a seven-step procedure to guide supervisors through the process.

Managing Mental Illness in the Workplacearose from a 1997 Hogg Foundation grant and was developed from workplace consultations, interviews with employers and employees, and a review of the literature addressing disability, mental illness and the best practices for human resource policy.

Handrich has spent much of her career providing extensive consultation on workplace issues. She has presented community training and consultation on the ADA and supervisory management of mental illness in the workplace. She has more than a decade of professional experience in mental health settings working with populations ranging from the worried well to the severely mentally ill.

Copies of Managing Mental Illness in the Workplacemay be obtained by email at hf.comm@uts.cc.utexas.edu, or by writing the Publications Division, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, The University of Texas at Austin, Post Office Box 7998, Austin, Texas, 78713-7998.