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When It’s More Than the Winter Blues: Accommodating SAD in the Workplace

With colder weather and diminished daylight, winter can be a difficult time of year for many. For those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), it can be especially challenging. SAD is a type of depression that is exacerbated by overcast skies and poor indoor lighting. Common symptoms include oversleeping, fatigue, feeling lethargic, irritability, stress intolerance and lack of interest in daily activities.

If the symptoms of SAD are limiting an employee’s ability to work, there are workplace accommodations that may help. For example, according to the ODEP-funded Job Accommodation Network (JAN), numerous productivity enhancements can assist someone experiencing SAD, including sun-simulating lights, anti-fatigue ergonomic equipment and flexible scheduling, to name just a few. However, JAN reminds us that not all people with SAD will need accommodations to perform their jobs, and many others may only need a few accommodations.

Of course, SAD is just one example of a mental health condition employees may experience, and employers can take a number of steps to foster a mental health-friendly workplace all year long. For tips and resources, check out the Workplace Mental Health Toolkit, a product of the ODEP-funded Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion, and the “Mental Health at Work: What Can I Do?” PSA and workplace guide, products of ODEP’s Campaign for Disability Employment.

We all benefit from workplaces that promote good mental health. So, whatever the season, it’s always a good time to support worker well-being.