Borderline Personality Disorder

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Health Assured team

17 July 2019

People with mental health conditions, like borderline personality disorder, will have their own way of thinking and behaving.

As an employer, you must help employees with manage their conditions along their work.

But whilst you have a legal duty of care, you aren’t expected to treat them. Instead, you should create a workplace that removes potential triggers for their conditions.

If you fail to protect them or treat them poorly, you could face discrimination claims–along with costly penalties and business damages.

Read all about borderline personality disorder, and how to keep a safe workplace for those suffering from mental health conditions.

What is borderline personality disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a condition where an individual suffers from varying moods, emotions, and behaviours. It’s also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD).

It’s one of the most common types of personality disorder. The term ‘borderline’ refers to the midpoint between neurosis and psychosis.

This mental health condition sits alongside:

  • Anti-social personality disorder.
  • Histrionic personality disorder.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder.

All four states share characteristics and symptoms. The most common signs range from feeling excessive emotions to exhibiting unpredictable behaviour.

What are symptoms of borderline personality disorder?

Symptoms can be categorised into four categories. The four types of borderline personality disorder include:

Emotional instability

This is when a person feels intense emotions or reactions. Examples of emotional borderline personality disorder include feeling extreme anger, shame, and sorrow.

Disturbed patterns of thinking or perception

This is when upsetting thoughts become intensified, or when they contribute to episodes of strange experiences. Examples of borderline personality disorder include, hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t there.

Impulsive behaviour

This is when a person experiences difficulties in controlling urges. Impulsive borderline personality disorder includes things like, self-harm, reckless behaviour, and drug or alcohol abuse.

Intense and unstable relationships

This is when a person faces difficulties in maintaining relationships due to their condition. The causes relate to fears of abandonment or being overwhelmed.

Other signs of borderline personality disorder

Not all symptoms portray external behaviour or emotions. People can also suffer from quiet borderline personality disorder, where symptoms are felt inwards rather than outwards. These symptoms include:

  • Uncertainty around identity.
  • Feelings of emptiness and loneliness.
  • Issues with anger management.
  • Paranoia, psychosis, or disassociation.

Borderline personality disorder vs bipolar

These two disorders share a lot of common symptoms, but medically, they are defined separately.

Someone with bipolar disorder might suffer from extreme mood fluctuation, but they still experience a stable lifestyle between episodes. Whereas people with BPD suffer from triggers and causes constantly.

What are the causes of borderline personality disorder?

There is no clear or singular cause for BPD, as many factors can contribute to it. Some traits of borderline personality disorder come from:

  • Genetics: BPD genes can be inherited from parents to children. A medical diagnose for BPD is especially common if an immediate family member has it.
  • Brain chemicals: People with BPD are more likely to have issues with their brain’s neurotransmitters. ‘Messenger chemicals’ (especially serotonin) are said to have links with depression and aggression.
  • Brain development: Research shows the brain-section that regulates mood is smaller or less active in people with BPD. (These sections include the amygdala, hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex).
  • Environmental factors: Trauma like physical and emotional abuse, abandonment, or neglect are commonly found in people with BPD. Unresolved issues or broken relations with family/friends often shape their perspective on life.

Legal rights for people with mental health conditions

Under the Equality Act (2010), employers have a duty of care over all their staff. You must protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of your employees. And this includes caring for their physical and mental health problems.

When it comes to mental health conditions, the tiniest trigger can set precedence on a person’s daily activities. So, teach your staff (especially managers) how to recognize borderline personality disorder triggers.

In some cases, mental health conditions are legally categorised as a disability. So, if a worker expresses that they need help with managing their condition, you must act on it.

Managing an employee with a borderline personality disorder

You might face complications when trying to manage an employee with BPD. And balancing your moral and legal duty of care can be tough.

But through the right support and guidance, you can protect staff wellbeing, workplace morale, and your business’ reputation.

Here’s how you can manage an employee with a borderline personality disorder:

Provide medical support

If an employee believes they may have BPD, you should offer medical support. Refer them to a GP or a mental health professional.

They will undertake further medical assessments; and provide diagnosis from personal history, issues, and emotions. They can also offer psychotherapy, medication, and sometimes hospital referrals for more serious cases.

Keep a healthy workplace culture

Your work culture can either be very helpful or detrimental to your staff’s wellbeing.

An ideal work-setting provides employees with stability, continuity, and professional development. Without a healthy workplace culture, you could inadvertently cause stress and worsen their symptoms.

Apply policies and procedures

An important step to take is applying policies that reflect appropriate workplace etiquette. Ensure all employees follow these rules. And actively minimise the stigma of borderline personality disorder and mental health conditions.

Harassment, discrimination, or bullying must be dealt with through formal disciplinary procedures.

Have emotional intelligence

Remember to keep an open mind when managing employees with BPD. Try to have emotional intelligence when dealing with conflict or incidents involving them.

It’s important to consider they may lack having total control over emotions or triggers. Understand their conditions and respond to them appropriately.

Use employee assistance programmes which can help those living with mental health conditions. They also provide training to managers, allowing them to help their team-members work alongside their conditions.

Get expert advice on borderline personality disorder with Health Assured

Conditions like BPD might involve complicated issues and concerns. But, as an employer, you need to provide them with care–not a cure.

Your legal and moral duty to protect your staff means hosting safe work conditions. Failing this, you risk facing discrimination claims–costing you hefty penalties and business damages.  

Health Assured provides expert advice on borderline personality disorders and other mental health issues. Our teams offer specialised knowledge on employee wellbeing; whilst considering your business needs.

We also provide a 24/7 helpline, that’s open 365 days a year – helping you care for your staff all year round. Arrange a call back from an expert today on 0844 891 0350.

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