Mental Health Awareness Month: How to Create a Healthy, Inclusive Workplace

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Employees with mental health issues encompass a significant segment of the workforce – and perhaps your own workplace. Some staff may require accommodations to maintain their peak performance. In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, Galt Foundation gives an overview of how businesses can accommodate employees with mental health conditions.



Did you know? May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In a November 2020 survey, nearly half (46%) of US workers reported mental health issues. That’s an increase compared to a year earlier (pre-pandemic), when the number was 39%. These statistics have employers wondering how to help employees who are experiencing mental health challenges.


Below, read about how employees living with symptoms of mental health conditions can continue to successfully contribute at work, and learn the steps employers can take to make these symptoms more manageable in the workplace.

Mental Health Awareness Month


Since 1949, Mental Health America (MHA) and its affiliates have observed Mental Health Month each May. The aim is to raise public awareness, reduce stigma, and put forward strategies for improving mental health and wellness.


In 2021, the theme is Tools 2 Thrive, for the second year in a row. Going into the second year, the effects of the pandemic on mental health are still wide-reaching. To help, a downloadable toolkit from the MHA provides handouts on everything from learning to adapt after trauma to getting out of thinking traps.

Mental Health in the Workplace


We all benefit from an inclusive workplace. The World Health Organization (WHO) has found that “workplaces that promote mental health and support people with mental disorders are more likely to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and benefit from associated economic gains.” 


The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) broadly characterizes disabilities as “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” That means, if an employee has a mental health condition that affects their daily activities, they may receive accommodations in order to perform their job.

Determine the Right Tools


If someone in your workplace has symptoms of, or has been diagnosed with, a mental health condition, it is important to remember that every person’s experiences will differ. For instance, if you have two employees with a diagnosis of depression, their experiences and how the symptoms impact them may be very different. Accommodations may be needed in one case, but not another.


To help determine what accommodations an employee may need, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) has identified a few questions for consideration. These include asking what limitations the employee is experiencing, identifying which job tasks are problematic, and finding out what accommodations have been successful in the past. Additional training may also be indicated for supervisors and other personnel.

Examples of Workplace Accommodations


When needed, job accommodations come in all shapes and sizes. For example, according to the Job Accommodation Network, some accommodations for managing panic attacks include identifying and reducing triggers and providing private rest areas. Universally designing spaces and encouraging employees to take time and space when needed not only helps those with the diagnoses. The entire workforce benefits.


Depending on the mental health condition, a combination of products, services, and strategies may allow for the most productivity. Products may include items like white noise machines or fidget devices. Services might encompass job coaches. Strategies could include systems such as telework or modified workspaces. 

An Inclusive Workforce


Employers can help build more inclusive and productive workplaces by recognizing and valuing the contributions of all their employees, including those with mental health conditions.


If you are in search of job applicants, feel free to get in touch with the team at Galt Foundation and we’d be more than happy to help.

You can reach one of our qualified experts here or by calling us at 1-877-361-1277.

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