Mental Health Considerations in the Workplace


Mental health in the workplace is a topic that employers and human resource managers must be familiar with. They must be able to understand the problems that may arise due to issues concerning mental health in the workplace. Additionally, they must understand the rights of workers who are experiencing mental health issues that manifest in the workplace. 

Symptoms in the Workplace

According to the Harvard Medical School, The World Health Organization conducted extensive surveys related to mental health issues in the workplace and calculated the tangible costs associated with these problems, including accounting for absenteeism and lost productivity related to mental health concerns. The organization found that depression was the most costly mental health problem in the workplace. Anxiety was the next most expensive mental health problem. 

The survey indicated that approximately six percent of workers experienced symptoms of depression during the year. In the workplace, this mental health condition may be observed through symptoms of nervousness, irritability, restlessness and physical symptoms of pain. Employees may lose productivity and may feel tired at work. Depression can also impact an employee's judgment. 

Anxiety disorders may be observed through symptoms of fatigue, restlessness, problems concentrating and continued worrying. Employees with anxiety disorders may need continuous reassurance about their performance. They may sometimes be irritable. They may experience physical symptoms such as gastrointestinal problems that are associated with the disorder. Individuals with anxiety problems have reported absences at a rate similar to depression.

Another common mental health problem that many employees experience is bipolar disorder. This disorder is characterized by swinging from manic modes to depressive modes. Symptoms of this disorder may manifest in the workplace as disruptive behavior, defiance of company rules, over-aggressiveness, judgment mistakes and depressive symptoms. 

ADHD, which does not only impact children, is also a significant disorder in the workplace. Many adults are diagnosed with this disorder. Individuals may be disorganized, have difficulty meeting deadlines, be unable to manage larger workloads or have problems following directions. According to the WHO survey, only 13 percent of employees with this condition received treatment for it within the past year. 

Americans with Disabilities Act

Employers must give consideration to issues related to mental health in the workplace and legal requirements. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against employees or applicants due to the person's actual or perceived disability. If an employee can perform the functions of their position, the company cannot terminate the employee. Additionally, the employer must provide reasonable accommodations. These accommodations may include restructuring the job, setting a flexible schedule, allowing for additional mental health days or taking other action to allow the employee to preserve his or her job and be able to perform the essential functions of his or her job. 

Family Medical Leave Act

FMLA protects an employee's job if he or she is suffering from a debilitating mental illness that prevents him or her from being able to work. This protection may require the employer to keep the employee's position unfilled for 12 weeks a year. 

Employers can establish clear policies to deal with mental health in the workplace. Additionally, mental health conditions often intersect with workplace discord and can become a major consideration when conducting workplace investigations.

Cite this article: Lynch, N. (2017). Mental Health Considerations in the Workplace:

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