This is part one of a series

Accommodating mental illness in the workplace principles and practice

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It just depends on the individual and what will help in their particular experience. In a workplace environment this is not only a fear of social rejection but fear of harming their careers and even of losing their jobs. Part three, which is on emotional support, can be found here.

Given the heightened media attention and agency focus on mental health, now is a good time for employers to review their legal obligations relating to mental illness in the workplace. Not every person experiencing mental illness will have difficulty at work, but some will. It shows that too many bipolar workers are not comfortable revealing their condition.

If we fear discrimination from anyone, we are less likely to disclose. Examples of recognized mental health disabilities include generalized anxiety disorder, depression, alcohol addiction, or drug addiction. Once taboo, discussions of mental health issues are being publicly championed by the likes of Michelle Obama, Kate Middleton, Kristen Bell, and Lady Gaga.

Check-ins may also help people manage problems before they become stressful and overwhelming. What Accommodations Look Like Because every person is unique and may have different needs, there are many options for mental health accommodations.

Part of her exploration in finding what would work for her involved understanding how and why she responded to certain circumstances. Many mental illnesses may be successfully managed or treated without the need for a workplace accommodation. What is needed then is for employers to proactively make it clear that people who have mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder, feel safe revealing their mental disorders. Some mental health problems do not rise to the level of a recognized disability under human rights legislation.

As a result, they need to find ways of letting all of their workers know that the work environment does not discriminate against those with mental illnesses and that accommodations are available. Provide this information at all levels, including supervisors and during the hiring process. Employers should be cognizant of the fact that not all accommodations are bad for business. However, the worker is not required to disclose detailed diagnosis or treatment information if that information is not necessary for the purposes of implementing an accommodation.

An employee may also be reluctant to ask for accommodation due to fear of stigma associated with mental illness. Expecting us to hide these ticks places an undue burden on us. However, this undermines the principles of accommodating mental illnesses.

We might like to pace, sit awkwardly, or, when depressed, read with our head in our hands. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also offers some guidance on accommodation procedures. An employer is not required to grant indefinite leave to a disabled employee.

Also, unlike a physical disability that may be permanent, shifts in mental health can trigger and recede without warning. For employees, it provides ideas on the kind of accommodations to request in the face of well-meaning employers who might not otherwise know what it is that we need.

The Equal Employment Opportunity

Just a few examples of possible accommodations relating to mental health conditions include altered break and work schedules e. Speculative or anecdotal concerns about cost, health and safety or employee morale are not adequate excuses for refusing to accommodate mental illness. As a result, I will be putting together a series of articles on accommodations for workers with bipolar disorder. First, workers need to have it be known that their jobs are not in jeopardy if they disclose their disorder. By following these steps, it is easier to create a work environment in which bipolar people feel comfortable.