The value of hiring an employee with a mental illness

Employers are often unaware that a staff member is suffering from a mental illness because they fear that they will be penalized for it.

Employers are often unaware that a staff member is suffering from a mental illness because they fear that they will be penalized for it.

In the business world, we are exposed to a vast amount of problems. Sometimes the issues are with the company's clients, among colleagues or in some cases, the individual. For the sake of privacy or political correctness, talking about personal problems are a no-no, but assuming they don't exist is not realistic either.

Companies are legally not supposed to discriminate someone for their gender, race or disability, but the problem still persists one way or another. Rob Lachenauer wrote in the Harvard Business Review that having some sort of disadvantage comes off as "career suicide."

"And while there are stories about executives in the C-suite who suffer from depression, these stories are rare," Lachenauer added.

Refusal to consider these candidates is not only illegal in accordance to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, but it contributes to the unemployment rate as well. When 60 to 80 percent of these Americans are out of work, employers are missing out on a unique perspective that can help a business thrive.

"That's a real pity, because sometimes it's the person with the mental illness who can provide the cohesion, the humanity, or the breakthrough idea that separates your organization from all the rest," he explained.

So instead of turning away from this group of people, companies can help these individuals work through it, re-engaging their energy elsewhere. In fact, compensation packages may be designed to help people with mental illnesses. Human resources departments are in the position to inform the company about benefits they may not know about.

HR software solutions can serve as a place to provide and store information. If a worker does suffer from a mental illness, make a note of that in their profile. This way, if they are held accountable during a performance review, HR professionals can identify if it was during a time they faced mental hardships.