Mental Health in the Workplace

Submitted by pec on

If you suffer from a disability, there are ways to overcome the physical and mental challenges that will make living with a disability easier. It can be hard to accept a disability but simply accepting it is like giving up for many. Refusing to accept the limitations you have to endure prevents you from making the changes you should make, and discovering new goals.

Why is Mental Health in the Workplace Important?

Maintaining acceptable mental health in the workplace is important as it means you will fit into the role you are paid to do but many employees or employers suffer from mental health issues. To help these cases there are employment laws in place for promoting mental health and well being at work.

Employment Laws Related to Mental Health


ADA, which is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), limits an employer's ability to ask workers disability-related questions.


The FMLA is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Under the FMLA, covered employers are required to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to eligible employees. When covered employees the FMLA leave can be used for a mental health condition.

Employers must provide accommodations for mental health reasons.

Under federal law, workers with mental health conditions may be protected against discrimination and harassment at work related to their condition, have workplace confidentiality rights, and have a legal right to reasonable accommodations that can help them perform and keep their job.

Recognizing Mental Health in the Workplace

There are often signs that an employee may be dealing with a mental health issue which could be any of the following:

  • showing fear and worry that is unfounded;
  • indications of substance misuse;
  • increased irritability;
  • finding difficulty with problem-solving;
  • decrease in work performance;
  • change in physical appearance;
  • change in mood or emotions;
  • change in eating or sleeping habits;
  • absent from work.

It is important to communicate and show support for an employee who is experiencing mental health problems.


Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other non discrimination laws, most employers are required to provide "reasonable accommodations" to qualified employees with a mental disability such as:

  • adjusting work breaks so they match individual needs such as more frequent breaks and/or greater flexibility when drawing up schedules for breaks;
  • adjusting work schedules like offering part-time work , job sharing, adjustments to the beginning or ending of work hours;
  • allowing sick leave for mental health and offering extra unpaid or administrative leave for treatment or recovery of a mental health condition;
  • other policies could be that beverages and/or food is allowed at workstations, if necessary, to help mitigate medication side effects;
  • providing a flexible workplace which could include telecommuting and/or working from home.

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