Mental Health and the Workplace
April 22nd, 2022
Mental health disease is more prevalent today than it ever has been before. More and more people are learning how to be productive in the workplace with a mental health disease, but the workplaces, for the most part, are not doing a good job of helping be a place where people are comfortable and feel safe to seek the help necessary to be even more productive. I believe that this is because helping people, really helping people costs money, and in our world, profits are still the bottom line. So my question is this, “How do we make it possible for people with a mental health disease to feel as though they are valued in the American workplace.
I think I have three ways we can do better.
- How about being aware.
Sometimes I think those of us that do not have any disease are not able to see that the way we act is actually harmful. Let me explain. Years ago, as a society, we started making items ADA compatible. Accessible bathrooms, sidewalks, entryways to restaurants, airports and so much more, all for the physically disabled. Now we are realizing that mental health disabilities are just as real, but are we doing anything like that for those individuals. I don’t exactly know what that looks like, here are some thoughts. What could we do to make it possible for someone to seek a place away from people in an airport? Is there anything we could do to help out during the workday? Like a quiet room in a large store or factory, a place to let out anger in an office environment? How about being able to feel confident that you wouldn’t be judged or stigmatized because of your disease.
- Is there a way we could make all workplaces trauma-sensitive and mental health safe zones?
I am fully confident that the reason our workplaces are not more sensitive is that we are selfish. Instead of looking for ways to help individuals, we are constantly worried that we will be making someone mad if we give something to one person that we don’t give to another. We have been doing this for physical disabilities for a long time. Nobody complains because we have ramps instead of stairs, elevators, or wider doors. I wonder if people would be as accommodating if a workplace provided a release room, or a safe room, or paid to have an employee have noise-canceling headphones. I wonder if people would be upset if we added mental health as a legitimate reason for a sick day. I think that right now, as I see it, mental health disabilities require a different set of accommodations that we are not even aware need to be given, are we ready to make those important changes so that people can be productive?
Finally, we need to begin to offer more ways that someone can receive the help they need. We may need to adjust how we schedule, and how we take breaks and lunches. It is time we start listening to the people who have these disabilities and start to help in a more complete way. Unless the Lord is over how we treat individuals with a mental health disability, we will get it wrong.