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. A resident may be quite open with neighbors and others about a diagnosis; 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. The New Jersey 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.
Scott B. Piekarsky, Esq., Managing Member of Piekarsky & Associates in Wyckoff, New Jersey
“You have to approach residents with behavioral health issues in a sensitive manner. Walk gingerly and carefully. People have privacy rights, and you don’t want to libel or slander them; you also don’t want to exacerbate a problem.
“In New Jersey, we’ll often have situations with elderly folks who are living alone, and they’re potentially being neglected or cannot take care of themselves, or it may be a behavioral health issue on top of a medical issue. Every county in the state has something called adult protective services, or APS. We’ll call their office in these situations to see if they can look into things. And certainly, if there are other family members available locally, we’ll reach out to them to intervene and indicate that there’s an issue.