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Accommodating mental health in the workplace

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Organizations have made great progress to accommodate individuals with physical disabilities, but do HR professionals have the skills and knowledge to address the concerns of workers with mental impairments? Several high-profile suicides in recent months have brought renewed attention to the issue of mental health. Greenlees says her organization is handling more calls from organizations looking for advice on how to comply with rules governing mental health and employment.

For example, someone who experiences periodic panic attacks may be permitted to have a support animal or take additional breaks when necessary.

workplace and human rights laws...

A person with post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from a car accident may be allowed to work an earlier schedule to avoid driving home in the dark. Employers should not assume these accommodations would create a burden to the organization, Greenlees said.

Can be helpful even when...

A worker with mental illness is also covered under the Family Medical Leave Act FMLAwhich allows workers to take unpaid leave and keep their job if they are receiving treatment. In many cases, allowing for a short leave of absence is all that is required —a worker takes time off and returns without further issues. But often, mental health impairments are long-term or even permanent, requiring the employer to take special steps.

Accommodating mental health in the workplace, meanwhile, may be reluctant to seek help for fear of being stigmatized for their mental illness.

The Duty to Accommodate Mental...

Finding the right accommodation for someone with a mental health challenge is not as simple. What are some ideas the employee has? Give it a try. Many HR professionals turn to the Job Accommodation Network JANwhich offers comprehensive information on disabilities and job accommodations, including those for people with mental illness.

JAN offers a series of questions employers should ask when formulating an accommodations plan. In addition, it offers suggested accommodations for workers dealing with challenges related Accommodating mental health in the workplace concentration, memory, time management, organization, attendance, co-worker interaction, stress, fatigue, panic attacks and sleep disturbances.

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On its website, JAN notes that there is no one-size-fits all approach to accommodating workers with mental illness.

Workers are not required to reveal a mental illness to their boss, though it is advised that they seek an accommodation if they are having trouble doing their job effectively. Greenlees says workers with mental illness seek out an accommodation themselves about half the time.

The rest of the time, the need Accommodating mental health in the workplace an accommodation becomes obvious when a supervisor approaches a worker about their performance.

Employers have a role to...

Many workers with mental impairments never ask for an accommodation because they fear for job security. Moreover, if other workers ask why a colleague is receiving special accommodations, a supervisor should disclose as little information as possible. That said, employers should be open about their willingness to assist those with mental illness and remove any negative misconceptions.

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HR Leads Business Subscribe. Jul Accommodating mental health in the workplace, By Tim Lemke. You are currently opted out of cookie-based tracking, which disables many of the features of this site. Between andthe cumulative economic cost of mental disorders is projected to reach $ trillion worldwide, comparable to the. workplace and human rights laws similarly evolve in attempts to protect Accommodating the invisible Accommodating mental health in the workplace presented by mental illness often remains.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that one in five people will Reasonable accommodations are adjustments to a work setting that make it.

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