This is how companies should help employees struggling with mental health conditions

Conversations around mental health have become more honest, as well as prevalent, in the workplace over the last few years, but there is still more companies can do to help their employees. Diane Lightfoot, of the Business Disability Forum, and a team of researchers recently conducted a study entitled, The Great Big Workplace Adjustments Survey 2019. The exhaustive report analyzes the viewpoints of more than 1,200 employees and managers.

Three hundred and eighty-five respondents surveyed reported struggling with mental health issues and or work-related stress, with 65% of this figure revealing the adjustment methods that accommodated their health concerns the most efficiently.

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“Our findings show the huge benefits that adjustments can bring both for individuals and for the organizations which employ them; breaking down workplace barriers, helping people to remain in employment and making working life generally more enjoyable,” Lightfoot said of the study.

Making time

Fifty-six percent of respondents said their company adopted a flexible-hours policy to assist them while they battled mental health issues. These employees were allowed to adjust their schedule in accordance with therapies and appointments. Forty-four percent reported working from home to mitigate anxiety and stress symptoms and an additional 44% relied on equipment to alleviate pain and discomfort.

Ninety-two percents of participants that worked at firms with adjustments in place said these attenuated their struggles to some degree, 83% claimed that these adjustments actually kept them from quitting, and 64% said that overall the adjustments made their work experience more enjoyable,

Unfortunately only a third of the challenged individuals involved in the study received adjustments within a month of requesting them. The large majority had to wait much longer to be successfully accommodated. Twenty percent of respondents with mental health disorders had to wait more than a year.

“It is very concerning that some people with mental health conditions are having to wait so long for adjustments to be put in place. Such delays could negatively impact on a person’s ability to carry out their job as well as having a detrimental effect on their mental health.” Lightfoot added.

Stigmas seem to contribute to the lack of accommodations as well. Twenty-eight percent of respondents with mental health concerns did not request assistance because they didn’t want to approach their employer. An additional 28% rejected doing so because they feared their employer would treat them differently. Twenty-three percent were afraid their colleagues would treat them differently.

“We urge all businesses to review their processes to ensure that colleagues receive the adjustments they need as quickly as possible. Adjustments must not be viewed as ‘a nice to have’ but as an essential part of looking after staff and creating a happy, healthy and productive workforce.”

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