The foundation of a psychologically safe workplace is inclusion, safety, and support that is communicated to and experienced by all employees. When employers support mental health, they avoid compliance concerns with federal and state regulations that protect employees from unfair or unsafe practices. Rather, employers can demonstrate their efforts by abiding by the law, going above and beyond to provide employees the knowledge and empowerment to request help when needed, and ensuring Human Resources and supervisors are equipped to manage these concerns.
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. Staff at JAN offers one-on-one guidance on workplace accommodations, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related legislation, and self-employment and entrepreneurship options for people with disabilities.
According to JAN, the following is a list of questions to consider when accommodating employees with mental health or substance use disorders:
- What limitations is the employee experiencing?
- How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
- What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
- What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
- Has the employee been consulted regarding possible accommodations?
- Once accommodations are in place, would it be useful to meet with the employee to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations and to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
- Do supervisors and employees need training?
The following is a list of common accommodations that can help employees manage their mental illness and job responsibilities:
- Flexible Schedule
- Modified Break Schedule
- Rest Area/Private Space
- Support Animal
- Support Person
- Identify and Reduce Triggers
In addition, JAN offers a Workplace Accommodation Toolkit, a free, comprehensive online resource for employers seeking to move beyond basic compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in order to create more disability-inclusive workplaces.
To help educate Human Resources and supervisors about disabilities, JAN offers a multimedia training microsite as part of raising disability awareness. Trainings include an overview of JAN, understanding and applying ADA, engaging employees with disabilities, and emotional support animals in the workplace.
Also, the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC), a company committed to providing focused education for absence management professionals, offers a 25-minute video training and 10-question quiz (at cost) about ADA and FMLA for supervisors. At the end of the training, managers should have a foundational understanding of the company’s responsibilities as well as their own responsibility as a supervisor. They will be able to recognize when and to whom the laws apply and be able to direct employees appropriately. For more information, please visit here.