HR Guide to Workplace Paranoid Schizophrenia

April 14, 20202:49 pm3736 views
HR Guide to Workplace Paranoid Schizophrenia
As more workplaces embrace diversity, HR leaders have to deal with the challenges of dealing with different personalities and minds. One of the most difficult personality types to deal with, according to Bevan et al. study, is distrustful personality. This lack of trust is threatening and sometimes a manifestation of some dysfunctional personality issues where one person can be so paranoid that they are dissociated from reality. Psychologists diagnose this mental illness as paranoid schizophrenia.

As more workplaces embrace diversity, HR leaders have to deal with the challenges of dealing with different personalities and minds. One of the most difficult personality types to deal with, according to Bevan et al. study, is distrustful personality. This lack of trust is threatening and sometimes a manifestation of some dysfunctional personality issues where one person can be so paranoid that they are dissociated from reality. Psychologists diagnose this mental illness as paranoid schizophrenia. 

Paranoid schizophrenia: explained 

Psychiatry Specialist Arnold Lieber, MD. wrote that paranoid schizophrenia is the most common subtype of schizophrenia disorder, characterised by predominantly positive symptoms of schizophrenia, including delusions and hallucinations. These debilitating symptoms blur the line between what is real and what is not, making it difficult for a person to lead a typical life. In most cases, the disorder can be diagnosed in late adolescence to early adulthood, between the ages of 18 to 30. It is highly unusual for schizophrenia to be diagnosed after age 45 or before age 16. 

See also: The Benefits of Workplace Hypnosis on Employee Performance

Paranoid schizophrenia in the workplace 

Schizophrenia has a crucial effect on educational and employment opportunities of the sufferer, meaning that working-age groups with schizophrenia disorder might have some disability to function normally in the workplace. This, however, should not be the reason for unfair treatment towards them. In fact, The World Health Organisation on Schizophrenia and Public Health mentioned that employed individuals with schizophrenia can work fairly normally depending upon the severity of the illness, the nature of their symptoms, and upon a person’s skills and interests. That said, individuals with paranoid schizophrenia can work at a higher seniority level, as a manager or supervisor for example. 

Further, Bevan et al. cited that individuals with paranoid schizophrenia who receives treatment can continue to work properly. Research showed that those in paid employment are over five times more likely to achieve functional remission than those who are unemployed or in unpaid employment, indicating that work brings clear health benefits for people with schizophrenia. A considerable proportion of working-age people with a history of schizophrenia are able and willing to work, despite repeatedly expressing the need for job training, placement and support services. 

Workplace fairness practice 

For people with schizophrenia who are employed, fear of discrimination has been highlighted as the reason why they choose not to disclose their condition. According to Bevan et al, none of the participants with lived experience of schizophrenia had been open about their condition at work. The reason is that these individuals want to have control of their condition, making them less defined by their conditions. 

Therefore, it is vital for HR to make fair adjustments and have policy and rules in place to provide fairness under Disability and Mental Illness Act, encouraging these individuals to speak up about their condition. This way, it could help the company provide support and reasonable adjustments for individuals with schizophrenia to remain at work. 

Adjustment and support: HR Homework 

Here are some things HR can do to make daily interactions with employees with paranoid schizophrenia easier. 

  • Be neutral as if it is a reality to you but you don’t need to follow their delusion. You might respond with a simple “I see it differently” as if you understand their fear but might have a solution for it. If the said employee insists on their fear, however, you can respond that everyone has the right to view things in their own way. 
  • Be a respectful and active listener. It is important to tell employees that no harm will come to them and that you can help. 
  • Give space so they do not feel trapped or surrounded. Stay with the person but at a distance that is comfortable both for them and you. It is also important to let the said employee know what you intend to do so the paranoid will not get worse. For example, when you want to make a call to help with the situation, you should tell “I am going to take my cell phone and call an advisor for this situation” to your employee.  
  • Talk about their fears and make a plan for handling the fears when they occur. You can help employees with schizophrenia make a list of their fears, such as these things are not going to hurt me, these fears are symptoms of my illness, or they will go away if I seek help. But do not insist them to do this as it might make the said employee include you as part of their paranoid. 

Should HR tell other employees? 

Disclosure – the act of telling other individuals about mental illness is an issue that is vital to a successful recovery. However, doing so without concern of the said employees might violate their privacy. Make sure to discuss this matter with the employee and/or caregiver (if any) before making an announcement. 

It is advisable for HR to communicate about company’s protection law and practice regarding this issue, therefore, employees with schizophrenia paranoia will feel protected from any unethical behaviour during their work life. As an example, HR can tell the employees or caregiver that their right as an employee is vital to the employer and any information given to employer will be confidential. On the other hand, however, sharing the diagnosis of the illness to other co-workers can help the recovery process in the workplace. 

Read also: Supporting Employees Who Experience Mental Breakdown

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