Accommodating Mental Illness at Work

By Carola Mittag

Posted Sep 14th, 2020 in Tips & News

Accommodating Mental Illness at Work Work is important to our well-being. In addition to the income it brings, it can be a big part of our identity, how we understand our skills, and a way to contribute; however, a mental illness disability can have a big impact on the way we work.

As part of a sound health and safety culture, we need to understand that mental illness is a condition that must be recognized and accommodated, much like any other illness or condition. 

Perhaps the illness is work-related because of stress factors and demands of a particular job. For people experiencing a mental illness, a good work/life balance is critical. The relationship between stress and mental illness is complex, but certainly stress can worsen mental illness for some people.

Employees with a mental illness, have the right to ask for certain accommodations that will allow them to continue to work. They are under no obligation to disclose their mental illness to the employer; however, are likely to be asked to show documentation from a doctor that outlines the accommodations they may require.

Here are just a few suggestions to improve their work situation if they are experiencing mental illness:

◘  If they are returning to work after a leave related to mental illness, as an employer, consider negotiating a graduated return-to-work with your employee. This may mean their returning only three days a week, or for shorter workdays.

◘  Discuss with your employee what workplace situations cause stress, and how they can be addressed.

◘  Certain medications may make it difficult for them to be at work first thing in the morning. Suggest to your employee flexible work times that allow them to be at their most productive.

◘  Written instructions and directions from their supervisor may be requested and provided, if they find it difficult to retain spoken information.

Everyone is touched by mental illness. It may be yourself, a family member, a friend or a co-worker. Mental illnesses can take many forms, just like physical illnesses. Mental illnesses are still feared and misunderstood by many, but the fear will disappear as people learn more about them.

As a responsible employer, you provide a physically safe environment for your workers. But what about their psychological health and safety? Are you doing enough to help your staff be their best selves at work?

Supporting your employees’ mental health can improve productivity, cut down on absences, and increase worker retention.

Get an evaluation of your workplace and get on track with safety and compliance.

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