Managing Mental Health Issues Addressing Residents With Sensitivity

Running a community association requires boards and managers to work with people from all walks of life, including those who have unique experiences, wants, needs, and challenges. That may also apply to people with behavioral or mental health issues. In some cases, a resident may be quite open with neighbors and others about a diagnosis in effort to create awareness within their community and defuse confusion or concern should they experience symptoms. But in other instances, behavioral or mental health challenges can be undiagnosed or undisclosed, in which case the board or management may be perplexed as to how to deal with an individual who’s behaving in an unpredictable, erratic or disruptive way. 

Regardless of the specific scenario, all residents deserve to be treated with dignity and respect – and that mandate starts with boards and management. When behavioral or mental health factors are objectively in play, an association may find itself liable for damages should they fail to treat a resident with the appropriate care. The Chicagoland Cooperator spoke with several management professionals and attorneys in order to help provide associations with best practices for dealing with residents living with behavioral or mental health issues.

Christopher R. Berg, President of Independent Association Managers, Inc., in Naperville, Illinois

“The local health departments have many resources to help people with these types of challenges, but getting some people to request that help can be the most difficult step, despite being the first. Mandating that help often requires there to be a significant problem, but when you do have one, then the municipality will step in. Most smaller issues often come down to proving a nuisance, which usually requires an abundance of complaints and reports from multiple owners, as well as a good attorney.

“The fear of intrusion into a resident’s personal life is a common one in condos and similar communities. We have had to rely on local authorities to help ensure that the association can maintain the common elements, but scheduling and communication can go a long way toward minimizing stress for most people. Regardless, when helping residents with special needs, the prescription is patience – and it should be taken regularly.”

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