As employers work to find the best ways to accommodate their employees regarding mental health concerns, you can do some things to help yourself. Understand that your leadership may have no experience working with employees with mental health concerns, so patience is needed. You might also spearhead a new workgroup to help create and implement such accommodations. Here are some tips to address your mental health needs and concerns as a preventative measure.
- Acknowledge your concern and take responsibility.
a. It is your responsibility to heal yourself. Any trauma you have experienced is significant and not your fault; however, healing is absolutely under your control.
b. Do not dismiss your concerns. Even high achievers deal with mental health concerns, and if you want anyone else to take your situation seriously, it starts with you. Acknowledge it and decide to deal with it.
c. Get therapy-a therapist’s job is not to heal you but to help you with giving you tools to aid you on your journey.
d. Journal- getting your thoughts out and not repressing them could help. You might need uninterrupted time to express yourself, and what better way to get all your ideas out than to journal.
- Ask for help. Give those around you the opportunity to help in ways that they can and not specifically in the ways you want. Friends and family are not therapists and can be helpful in terms of support but not clinical.
a. Inform who is necessary-everyone in the office does not need to know anything medical, however certain people should. (Look into Schedule A letters if you work in the Federal government)
b. Ask for accommodations up front, not after. Requests for accommodations should be spoken about during your onboarding process (even the interview) and will be a bit harder afterward. Ask about flexibility with schedules. Do not wait for an incident or mental exhaustion to make a request.
c. Make your Accommodations
i. Schedule leave-plan your leave days ahead. Use a day a month just for yourself. No one needs to know what you do on your leave. Some holidays plan only rest. Manage your energy on the front end.
ii. Take lunch out of the office and go for a walk. Walking and getting a breath of fresh air and sunlight can do wonders for your stress levels.
iii. Have a weighted blanket or any therapeutic items at your desk/workspace if possible.
Any concerns of misuse of your medical information can cause hesitation and not ignored by the author. Employers who use your medical information in a misappropriated way must be held accountable. These are just tips to help bridge the gap of communication and expectation between employee and employer. The goal is to be preventative and not reactive. Please get all approved accommodations on paper and signed. Documentation helps if there is a change of command or policy update.