Compliance Makeover: ADA Psychological Accommodations

DMEC Staff@Work

Accommodating Psychological Conditions under the ADA

supporting-employeesBy Dr. Michael Lacroix

Associate Medical Director
Aetna Disability

We hear an awful lot of anguish from employers about complying with the requirements of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

Many organizations find accommodating psychological/behavioral conditions under the ADA particularly stressful. The supervisors and line managers who ultimately manage these accommodation requests face a hornet’s nest of issues:

  • They usually have very limited understanding of the nature of psychological difficulties;
  • many labor with the stigma that is often still attached to these conditions; and finally,
  • there’s the challenge of finding some creative adaptations — you can’t just rely on the fallback options of an ergonomic keyboard or chair or a sit-stand desk.

One study found that as many as 80% of employees with depression or anxiety disorders believe they need some form of accommodation but that only about a third are actually accommodated.1 We need to close this gap. These accommodations can be surprisingly simple, and receiving accommodations is associated with a significantly lower risk of still having a behavioral health condition a year later.2 To accommodate psychological/behavioral conditions, employers don’t need a “compliance makeover” so much as an “attitude reset kit” to help supervisors and line managers fulfill their role with less dread.

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