Mental health issues are sensitive topics in today’s workforce, but one that should be known, discussed, and researched by company managers and human resource employees. Although the United States government protects employees with mental health issues, there is still much discrimination in the workplace against individuals suffering from any kind of mental illness, whether it is PTSD or depression. Discrimination can happen because employees and managers are unaware or do not know enough about mental disorders. If you have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, here is how to talk to your employer about what you are facing:
- Employee Rights
- What to Discuss
- Assistance Programs
- Long-term Results
Know your Rights
You have specific rights as a person with mental health issues. Some mental health issues are even covered under the social security disability coverage offered by the Social Security Administration. A beginner’s guide to social security application can help you determine if your illness is eligible for social security benefits. If your illness falls under the disabled category, your employer has to provide you with the necessary accommodations so you can work effectively at your job. Any discrimination due to disability is illegal in the United State.
Know when to Talk
According to experts at The Wall Street Journal, unless you have to disclose your mental illness to your employer, it may be better to keep silent about the issue. Your employer cannot legally ask why you are going to so many doctor appointments, and unless your work performance is altered, you do not have to share your mental health status with your employer. In some cases, over-sharing will only hold you back at work- especially if you already have your disorder under control.
Talk to HR
If you must disclose your mental health situation, speak with your HR department before speaking to your boss directly. Your HR department can work with you to find solutions to your work schedule so you can attend medical appointments, offer information about medical leave, and other important information that can be negotiated without having to speak with your employer directly. A mental health disorder should be kept in complete confidentiality between you and the managers at your office, but it can be a good idea for human resources to make aware of different mental disorders in general. Presenting on mental disorders can help decrease discrimination in the office overall.
Look into Assistance Programs
Some employers and companies offer assistance for mental health issues through your company network or health plan. These options are often affordable, and may help you find solutions to issues that you may not have even considered yet.
Focus on Function and Long-term Results
You should try to remain as productive at work as you can. If you need time off, you can take any medical leave that your company offers to you. Always offer solutions for dealing with your problems, both when speaking to HR and with your employer or boss. If you can come prepared with possible solutions to discuss, the conflict will be lessened and you may find that your employer is more willing to work around your disability. Think about the long-term when determining who to speak with about your illness. Some illnesses may hurt your chances of advancing in the long run.
With these steps, you will find that navigating a mental illness in the workplace does not have to be an insurmountable obstacle. Armed with these tips, you should be able to remain a productive member of your workplace without much trouble or hassle.