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Managing mental health in salons and spas continues to be an ongoing issue for business owners in the beauty industry.

With around one million Australian adults currently living with depression and over two million suffering from anxiety, statistics show that an average of one in five women and one in eight men will experience depression in their lifetime.

Chances are that you currently have or previously have had a staff member within your spa who suffers from either depression or anxiety.

This means that there is a higher rate of absenteeism, reduced productivity at work and increased turnover, along with the social impacts on workplace relationships and team cohesion.

The key to handling your team’s mental health is centred around three steps – identify, address and manage.

Identify

 First, work out if a staff member is suffering from anxiety or depression. Check for behavioural indicators of mental health issues, including withdrawal from social activities, rudeness, signs of stress and lack of sleep.

Anxiety and depression can be both ongoing and triggered by individual incidents. If there is a marked change in a staff member, consider whether they might be having some kind of personal crisis, like a divorce or family issue, or whether it might be a case of substance abuse.

Once you have observed and identified that there is indeed a greater instance of depression or anxiety at play, then you need to move onto addressing it with your team member.

Address

It’s important to speak to your staff member on a one-to-one basis about their anxiety or depression.

Take time to sit with them and offer them help and support, letting them know that you are there for them.

If they are happy to talk about it, this may be a good time to offer your team member practical solutions that may help them in the salon as well as offering suggestions on where they can get professional help and advice.

We strongly recommend that salon owners document any and all conversations, meetings or chats with their staff about any issues surrounding mental health.

This ensures that the employer can prove, if need be, that the issue was addressed in salon and that they have fulfilled their duty of care.

When you speak to your staff member, it’s important to highlight incidents that are either out of character or not in compliance with how the salon is run or how a situation should be handled.

The reaction of your staff member will also be very telling as to how you can anticipate them to move forward – if they shut down, refuse to accept criticism and don’t communicate well with you, it could pose issues down the line.

Manage

While many employees can successfully manage their anxiety and depression without it impacting their work, some may need adjustments to the workplace or job to help them continue their role.

Others may need time off, and while we appreciate that this incurs a cost for employees, it is important that flexibility is taken into account in these circumstances.

Sometimes simple actions like changing workloads, changing work types or shifting clients from one staff member to another can be enough to make a change.

Other times, it may simply become unfeasible for your business to continue to support a staff member who cannot work within the boundaries of your business.

If a team member who is suffering with anxiety and depression is having a negative impact on your business and team, then there may be grounds for dismissal, depending on their actions.

For businesses supporting their staff through depression and anxiety, there are many benefits. Not only do you have an opportunity to share with all your employees that they are cared for and valued through your actions, but you are able to create a strong workplace culture that puts the team first.

As a business owner, by supporting staff with mental health issues, you are able to retain their skills and experience within your business and avoid the costs associated with hiring and retraining staff members.

These are significant costs in terms of time and money, and so it’s important that you consider carefully the overall impact on your business that your team member may have if they stay or if you ask them to leave.

Ultimately, as a business owner you must consider the impact that anxiety and depression suffered by staff will have on your business.

Employers should also consider whether any changes to workplace practices or procedures that could help address any communication issues, such as clear guidance on expectations, responsibilities and deadlines, should be outlined in a salon policy and procedures manual.

Call the team at HABA (Hair and Beauty Australia) on (02) 9221 9911 or www.askhaba.com.au for any advice you may need on managing depression and anxiety within the workplace. Adrian Boothman is HABA’s industrial relations advisor .