Nearly 1 in 5 Americans may experience some form of mental illness each year. For many of these individuals (and many without mental health conditions as well), work is key to their health, contributing to a sense of purpose and well-being. Thus, it's important that employers understand how to foster a mental health-friendly work culture.
But employees are not the only ones to benefit from such a work culture. Workplace practices inclusive of people with disabilities—whether they happen to be obvious to the eye or not—can deliver numerous bottom-line advantages, including greater productivity, reduced insurance costs, and improved employee retention and morale. Furthermore, by sending a clear message about their company's commitment to an inclusive workplace, Federal contractors covered by Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act may encourage people with mental health conditions to self-identify as people with disabilities.
A number of resources are available to help ensure that disability-related policies and practices in the workplace take into consideration the needs of people with mental health conditions. These include the following:
- Accommodation Ideas for Mental Health Impairments: Guidance from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) on workplace supports for employees with mental health impairments.
- JAN Workplace Accommodation Toolkit: A toolkit on workplace accommodations that features a series of Just-in-Time Training Videos on topics including accommodations for employees with mental health disabilities.
- EARN’s Mental Health Toolkit: Resources for Fostering a Mentally Healthy Workplace — This toolkit from the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) provides background, tools and resources that can help employers learn more about mental health issues and cultivate a welcoming and supportive work environment for employees who may be facing mental health issues. It also presents an easy-to-follow framework for fostering a mental health-friendly workplace, all built around the "4 A's": Awareness, Accommodations, Assistance and Access.
- Palm Card — This card illustrates the "4 A's" from the Employer Assistance and Resource Network's Mental Health Toolkit
- Maximizing Productivity: Accommodations for Employees with Psychiatric Disabilities: Fact sheet providing information on workplace accommodations for employees with psychiatric disabilities.
- Working Well: Leading a Mentally Healthy Workplace: Toolkit to provide human resource professionals and business leaders information, strategies, and current best practices to create supportive workplace environments for mental health and well-being.
- Center for Workplace Mental Health: Resources from the American Psychiatric Association Foundation to help employers create a more supportive workplace environment and advance mental health policies at their organizations. Among their employer resources are the ICU and Right Direction programs.
- Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation - Resources for Employers: Information and resources to help companies who are considering hiring individuals with psychiatric disabilities.
- An Employer's Guide to Employee Assistance Programs (PDF): A report from the National Business Group on Health designed to help employers realize the strategic value of an employee assistance program.
- Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation - Resources for Potential and Current Workers: Resources designed to directly assist individuals with psychiatric disabilities consider, get, and retain employment.
- Depression, PTSD, and Other Mental Health Conditions in the Workplace: Your Legal Rights: Information from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about legal rights in the workplace for individuals with mental health conditions.
- Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation - Resources for Providers and Administrators: Information for service providers and administrators about interventions and models to support individuals in choosing, getting, and keeping work. The Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities: Resources on programs and practices that help people with psychiatric disabilities attain and maintain competitive employment. The Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities is partially funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.
- Supported Employment Evidence-Based Practices KIT: A downloadable version of a toolkit created by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that provides information about creating supported employment programs for people with serious mental illnesses.
- Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC): A Federal advisory committee that reports to Congress and Federal agencies on issues related to serious mental illness and serious emotional disturbance.
- Getting to Work: Promoting Employment of People with Mental Illness (PDF): A report for state policymakers from the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law that describes the need for supported employment services, how these services work, the successful outcomes they secure, the cost savings that they enable states to realize, and the legal obligations that they help states fulfill. It also offers recommendations for states interested in expanding the availability of supported employment services for people with serious mental illness. Also available are three fact sheets from Getting to Work:
- Improving Employment Outcomes for People with Psychiatric Disorders and Other Disabilities: A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.
- Self-Disclosure and Its Impact on Individuals Who Receive Mental Health Services: A report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Mental Health Services that examines the role self-disclosure plays in reducing stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness.
- Predictors of Job Accommodations for Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities: An article describing a study that looked at the factors that influence the decision of individuals with serious mental health disabilities to seek accommodation in the work environment.
- Employment Intervention Demonstration Program: A multisite research study from the University of Illinois at Chicago of innovative programs that combine vocational rehabilitation with clinical services and supports.
- For educators and service providers, the ODEP-funded National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth provides numerous resources to assist in meeting the needs of youth with mental health conditions transitioning from school to adulthood and the world of work.
- Transitions ACR: Resources and research to promote full participation in socially valued roles of transition-age youth and young adults with serious mental health conditions. Transitions to Adulthood Center for Research is a Research and Training Center located at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- Adapting Supported Employment for Emerging Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions: An article from the Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research regarding effective services that are needed to assist young people with serious mental health conditions to successfully transition to employment or education.