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Cuts and bruises may not affect job performance but could distress co-workers
If you watched a light fixture fall on an employee, tearing a gash in her head, you’d rush to her side, try to stop the bleeding and probably call 911. But what would you do if a worker’s injuries were self-inflicted?
Self-harming includes cutting, burning and other self-mutilating behavior that is not suicidal in nature. It can be associated with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and low self-esteem. And while it may not be immediately visible, nor affect job performance, it can be distressing or distracting for co-workers who discover it. The stigma attached to the behavior can make it hard for self-harmers to seek help, specialists note. So should HR managers step in to assist?Maybe, experts advise, but it should be done carefully.“Not only do you have that person’s best interests [to consider], you also have to keep in mind the best interests of the people around them,” said Michelle Tenzyk, a 25-year human resources veteran and president of the New York City-based executive coaching firm East Tenth Group. “With self-harm, people around that person get impacted, too.”
Susan Milligan is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.
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