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by Abigail Van Buren

Workers Must Speak With One Voice About Disruptive Woman

DEAR ABBY: I work in a call center with 35 other workers. Recently our supervisor hired a woman who is mentally ill. We acknowledge that she has a right to work and, for the most part, she appears to be capable.

The problem is she hears "voices" speaking to her and often responds to them. Other times she "hears" co-workers seated behind her plotting to kill her, which, of course, is not true. She disrupts those around her by constantly asking if they can hear what others are saying about her and what she should do about it.

We have spoken to our supervisor about our concerns. His answer is, "Just be quiet and it will be OK." We don't dislike her -- in fact, we're sympathetic -- but we resent the position we have been placed in. None of us have been trained to deal with mental health issues. Have you any suggestions on how to handle this? -- UNEASY IN OHIO

DEAR UNEASY: Your supervisor is mistaken. Just being quiet is not the answer because the voices the woman is hearing are in her head. She's acting this way because she has gone off her medication.

This may be a workplace safety issue. Therefore, you and your co-workers must insist that the supervisor take action to ensure that she's not posing a threat to all of you.