The Disabled Workforce: Supporting Mental Health

Tasha Patterson@Work

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Supporting the Mental Health of Your Workforce

By Rachel Shaw, MBA, President, Principal Consultant, Shaw HR Consulting

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, one in five American adults experienced mental health problems in any given year,1 and employees with depression can miss 4.8 workdays in a three-month period, experience 11.5 days of lower productivity, and report some level of functional impairment.2 During the pandemic, about 40% of adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation3, and 40% of Americans identified mental health issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.4 Meanwhile, the number of people seeking help for anxiety and depression skyrocketed, according to MentalHealthAmerica.org.5

As a result, employers across the country are experiencing increased accommodation requests along with performance and attendance issues related to stress and mental health.

What can absence management professionals do? Start by understanding the basics of mental illness, mental health-related interactive processes, and reasonable accommodations. Be aware of biases and seek ways to keep them out of the workplace. One suggestion is to talk about mental health. Destigmatize mental illness and mental health issues by ensuring it’s not a taboo or hidden topic in your organization.

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