As we celebrate Disability Pride Month this July, it is crucial to spread awareness when it comes to mental health disabilities in the workplace.
July marks the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, a pivotal legislation in safeguarding the rights of individuals with disabilities. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), most employers must provide “reasonable accommodations” to qualified employees with disabilities. Many employers are aware of different types of accommodations for people with physical and communication disabilities, but they may be less familiar with accommodations for employees with disabilities that are not visible, such as mental health conditions.
As more companies begin to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, it’s equally important to consider the mental health of employees in the workplace. Depression is one of the leading causes of disability, and mental health has been recognized as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Not all workplaces are equipped to handle the needs of mental health advocates. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the importance of creating a safe workplace for all employees, including those with mental health disabilities, and how employers can do their part to foster a supportive environment.
1. Understand the Impact of Mental Health Disabilities
Before anything else, employers need to acknowledge the real impact of mental health disabilities on employees. It affects different aspects of their lives, including productivity, focus, and participation in workplace activities. Employers must take the time to understand what their employees are going through and be prepared to provide accommodations that work for them.
2. Provide Mental Health Resources
Employers should make resources available to employees who may be struggling with mental health. This can include access to an employee assistance program (EAP), mental health hotlines, and online resources. Companies can also partner with mental health organizations to provide education and support on mental health topics.
3. Foster a Supportive Workplace Culture
Creating a supportive workplace culture is essential for mental health advocates. This includes being mindful of language, creating a safe space for employees to discuss their mental health, and promoting work-life balance. Employers can also offer mental health days or other perks to support mental well-being.
4. Train Managers on Mental Health Accommodations
Managers should be trained on how to accommodate employees with mental health disabilities. This includes being knowledgeable about the ADA and other relevant legislation, as well as understanding how to communicate with employees about their needs. Managers should also be aware of potential biases and be willing to make adjustments to accommodate different disabilities. Some reasonable accommodations could be flexible hours or time off for therapy appointments.
5. Create a Mental Health Task Force
Employers can create a mental health task force to identify and address challenges related to mental health in the workplace. The task force can include a mix of employees from different departments and backgrounds, as well as mental health advocates. The group can work together to develop policies and initiatives to support mental health in the workplace.
To learn more information on becoming a better ally when it comes to disability and DEI, we suggest the book, Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally.
Whether you’re a CEO or employee, we all have a role to play in creating a workplace that prioritizes mental health and well-being. If you are in need of assistance with your mental health, please schedule an appointment to one of our licensed professionals.