How To Cope with Mental Illness in the Workplace.

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( When we think about health and the workplace, we often think about physical health. Our physical health, of course, can affect our career trajectory and job performance. Employee health impacts the workplace and economy on a larger level as well.

However, mental health is often misunderstood and not really well recognized in the workplace, yet it can have a huge impact on employees including their productivity and things like employee morale.

When people recognize that mental health is important, it can actually bring about a number of positive changes both at many levels.

Blogger Chenoa Maxwell writes about her mental health struggles and challenges with trauma and how those affected every part of her life including her career. “It is clearly recognizable that the failure to launch into a limitless life is the inability to break habit loops created by a fortified belief system,” writes Maxwell in a post on on how she went from attempting to suicide to building a career as an expert on self-love and emotional intelligence.

So does that mean that your mental health is going to play a huge role in your ability to progress in your career? In some cases yes, if you don’t nurture your mental health just like you would your physical health. However, if you do learn to take care of your mental health, it can make you stronger in your job and your career.

The following are some things to know about the effects of mental health in the workplace.

Mental Health and Unemployment

Unfortunately, there are some troubling statistics regarding mental health and employment. According to research, in the U.S. people with mental illness are anywhere from two to three times more likely to be unemployed. The unemployment rate among people with a mental illness is 15 percentage points lower than people without mental health problems.

If you do have a mental illness, you may be more likely to have low performance, call in sick or be off for longer periods of time. If mental stress brought on by your workplace is affecting your well-being, you may be entitled to compensation. However, suppose you want to get the benefits you deserve. In that case, you might need the help of a worker’s compensation attorney who can help you evaluate your claim, navigate the various stages of the claims process, and recover compensation.

However, while these statistics can sound upsetting, these are often related to people with untreated mental illness. If you receive treatment for your mental illness, you’re much more likely to be able to successfully manage the symptoms and thrive in your career.

It’s also essential to understand you’re not alone. There was research from the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey which showed that 18 percent of Americans aged 15 to 54 who were employed said they’d had symptoms of a mental health disorder in the previous month.

Employers’ Role

While it’s up to employees to learn how to recognize signs of mental illness and seek treatment at the individual level, employers play a role in this as well. There is research indicating that the impacts of mental illness on employees and the financial costs employers have to shoulder can be reduced if there was more access to treatment for employees.

Employers are often advised to look at mental health care as an investment that’s going to ultimately benefit the entire organization.

For example, studies show that if depression is adequately treated, it can reduce sick days, employee turnover and accidents on the job. It can also help improve employee productivity and the number of hours employees work.

Will Your Work Be Conducive to Recovery?

Sometimes when people have mental illnesses, particularly more severe disorders, they may find that their job is making the symptoms much worse. Job-related stress can be traumatic for anyone, and if you have an underlying mental health disorder, it can be exacerbated.

It may sound extreme, but sometimes if you have a mental health concern, you may need to find employment that’s going to be conducive to helping you recover and effectively manage your symptoms. For example, working in a cutthroat and highly competitive environment might not be the right option.

You may want to reconsider and find a work environment that’s more quiet and relaxed, for example. Thinking about scheduling can be helpful as well. You might be better suited to a flexible work schedule that also allows for some time to work at home.

Also, think about the other people and personalities that would likely be present in a different job. Finally, in certain cases, you may have protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for limitations you experience on the job which are connected to your disability.

It’s important not to feel ashamed but instead to confront your mental illness, seek treatment and if necessary speak with your employer if you feel you need reasonable accommodations.

Staff Writer; Larry Carter