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Psychiatry & Psychology--General/setting a works schedule for adult with mental health issues


I've been asked to train and supervise new worker. This person is my employer's family member.  The person is an adult approaching 30 years old. The person may be dealing with mental illness but I'm not aware of diagnosis. I'm working to teach them job and life skills and am struggling to understand how to best support them while still maintaining my own responsibilities - the initial challenge is creating a schedule. My first approach was to choose 2 set workdays with a set time of 4 hour block. I created the schedule with the person. In the first few weeks every single assigned workday has included no-shows/late arrival/requests to reschedule etc. always with lots of excuses. They have always come or called and done about 1 or 2 hours of work each time. This pattern is disruptive for me and I don't think it is beneficial for the employee. The goal was to have them show me they are reliable and then build from there eventually offering more hours and responsibilities/tasks.  I'm wondering if this approach will work for future weeks:  I want to tell the employee that if they will not come or will be late that they should call but avoid giving me excuses.  I'm not sure if I should take a "hard tack" approach and tell them that they must keep working on being successful with the 2 days per week 4 hour blocks with no  opportunity for make ups or reschedules OR if I should try and be more flexible and set 3-4 days with specific time frames they can come work  and leave it up to them if they come or not but they always must call to say whether they are coming or if they will be late. I've already realized that I will need to wait longer to assign critical tasks to the person. I'm hoping that if they can be reliable I can give them assigned tasks so they can develop confidence and independence.  Along with the potential mh struggles I see a lot of enabling by family, excuses, inability to cope with normal life events,short attention span, lack of motivation etc. I realize it is not my job to change or resolve all of the challenges but want to help this person develop some work and life skills and of course get our office work done too. The person does seem capable of the types of work we need done. A set schedule will allow me to do my own projects without disruption and then dedicate the time needed to train and support the new employee as needed during their dedicated work time. Any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!Thank you!

Either approach might work, and you might try both, but here is what you are missing:

The employee should not be disruptive to your business or to you: YOU have a right to that. If you can tolerate them coming and going, great, and if not, then you should not let them know such.  I cannot tell which might be best for the employee, but if YOU are not comfortable with the arrangement, then it is not going to last long and you BOTH are going to be worse off for it.

"A set schedule will allow me to do my own projects without disruption and then dedicate the time needed to train and support the new employee as needed during their dedicated work time."  Then that is what you should do.  If it does not work out, then the employee should be sent elsewhere, perhaps to a state supported job training program through vocational rehabilitation services or a community mental health center.

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Daniel S. Harrop, M.D.


Dr. Daniel S. Harrop received his B.A. and his M.D., both from Brown, and his M.B.A. from the Edinburgh Business School, Scotland. Board-certified in adult and geriatric psychiatry, he is a past president of the R.I. Psychiatric Society and a member of the Committee on Medical Quality of the American Psychiatric Association and the Committee on Continuing Medical Education of the R.I Medical Society. He serves as a consultant to four of the top five major medical management companies, including OptumHealth/United Healthcare, Magellan Behavioral Health Services, ValueOptions and APS Healthcare, and maintains a private practice in Providence, R.I. He also serves as chief psychiatric consultant on the Medical Advisory Board at the R.I. Workers Compensation Court. He was formerly on the faculty at the medical schools at both Brown University and Harvard University.

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