The statistics about mental illness are, quite honestly, scary. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 16.2 million Americans have experienced criteria for major depressive disorder within the past year. 19% of Americans have experienced an anxiety disorder within the past year. And of course, these two conditions can often overlap, contributing to overwhelm, helplessness, hopelessness, and, on the job, absenteeism. Much like the question of the chicken and the egg, figuring on what came first, the mental health difficulties or the strain it can have on ones job, results in a moot point. The main point is, many Americans are feeling mentally unwell, and its impacting their job performance. The question truly is, what can we do about it?
A recent study attempted to look at this, and they found that those who have job strain have a 14 percent higher likelihood to have mental illness. This does not mean “Those with mental illness cannot work” nor does it mean that each of these individuals should or are eligible for leave, workers compensation, or disability. What it does mean, though, is that we need to change the culture of workplaces to support mental wellness. One finding is that people feel better if they have an element of control. Being permitted to make decisions within their workday creates a higher quality of work environment, and perception that an individual, and their thoughts, are valued by the organization. Each job is different, but for a larger organization to look systematically at their workforce, and determine what decisions can be delegated to the workers, can be a major change in overall mental health within the organization. Whether this means flexible workday schedules, task completion flexibility, or even the choice of being able to go out for lunch versus having to eat at ones’ desk, choices help people feel better.
Workplaces are working hard to de-stigmatize mental illness and support mental health. The World Health Organization has released guidelines and best practice on mental health and work conditions. Many larger corporations have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that offer counseling and support for the worker, and sometimes, even their family members. Corporations are focusing on physical health improvements, like exercise incentives and healthy eating, which we know can help with mental health, as well. And ultimately, it is not legal to be fired for having a mental health condition. An employer cannot discriminate simply because of a diagnosis, and reasonable accommodations are a legal right that an employee has. Reasonable accommodations may be permitting you to leave an hour early to make a therapy appointment, and it may help to share information about the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) with your provider, to help ensure that your health is accommodated by your workplace. At Therapy Hive, our providers are committed to collaborating with other providers as well as your workplace, to make sure that wellness is something you can take to work with you. Search our directory today, and see how Therapy Hive can help you.