Employers around the world continue to struggle with how to appropriately address and accommodate individuals with disabilities in the workplace. But of all disability types, Mental health is still one of the most invisible, stigmatized and not understood. Springboard has heard many employers say they would not hire someone, if they knew they were currently experiencing depression or some other form of mental health issue. If this were not alarming enough, consider that researchers analyzing results from the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey, a nationally representative study of Americans ages 15 to 54, reported that 18% of those who were employed said, “they experienced symptoms of a mental health disorder in the previous month.”
Although it’s the Human Resource professionals that are the typical go-to folks in the organization relative to the employment of individuals with disabilities, most say they are not properly trained for addressing many of the issues that come up, especially, in the mental health arena. And even when a manager wants to help, they are typically not equipped with the training to do so.
As with any disability, if the individual is not feeling well, being communicated with appropriately and receiving the appropriate accommodation, they are not going to be as productive and engaged as they could be.
A major part of de-stigmatizing a mental health or other disability in the workplace is about creating a culture where employees feel they can safely, comfortably, and appropriately disclose their disability without negative repercussions. To accomplish this, today Corporate best-practices include Disability Etiquette and Awareness training; Immersion training on Accommodations and the Interactive Dialogue for Human Resources professionals; Hiring Managers and Recruiters; the use of a Disability Disclosure Guidance Tool; Disclosure Road-Shows and Video Vignettes to name a few. By doing these things, all of which Springboard Consulting provides worldwide, companies demonstrate their interest in successfully mainstreaming individuals with disabilities into their workforces and workplaces, including those with mental health issues
A really good place to begin the education portion of this work is to begin ridding ourselves of the conscious-bias that exists toward folks experiencing mental illness and with most disabilities. When asked, many managers have said, “they think an employee is trying to take advantage of the system when they request an accommodation due to stress or even depression.”
So how do you think these managers will respond to the individual who does disclose? Probably not well.
While many companies offer Employee Assistance Plans (EAP’s), which can offer wonderful resources for individuals with disabilities, inclusive of mental illness, EAP’s cannot replace the work that must be done internally with HR, Talent Acquisition and Management.
Given mental health issues are prevalent in today’s workplaces, Springboard is committed to writing more on this topic and answering your questions.
To learn more about Springboard’s offerings in this space, please contact Ivette Lopez T: +1(973) 813-7260 x102; E:firstname.lastname@example.org