Working with a Mental Health Issue: Knowing One’s Rights

“The bravest thing I ever did was go on with my life when I wanted to die.”• Juliette Lewis

The previous admission of the American actress. highlight aptlyyes the fight faced like several others people suffering from mental disorders. People with a mental health condition are often wary of disclosing their condition to employers for fear of discrimination and stereotyping. While there are laws in place to prevent bias regarding race, gender, and disabilities from being introduced, to this day there is an implicit bias regarding people with a mental health condition.

Apart from this, many employers go to great lengths to ensure a suitable working environment for people with disabilities, especially physical disabilities. However, they have not been very successful in creating similar opportunities for mental patients. The need of the hour is to help the mentally ill to join the workforce and other aspects of life.

It has been widely accepted that stable employment is a type of treatment for people with a variety of mental illnesses. Since mental patients often exhibit a variety of talents and abilities, it is essential to make an adequate investment in vocational strategies especially aimed at them. This will also be in line with the defined rights of the mentally ill.

With increased awareness of mental illness, many offices today have full-time counselors and offer online chat services to address common mental health-related issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression, while employee privacy is maintained. In this article some of the legal rights that safeguard the rights of people with mental illnesses have been discussed.

Legal rights to protect against discrimination

Whether it is with respect to the right to be treated with respect and dignity or the right to receive compensation and services in their own right, laws are in place to ensure that any employee with a mental illness is not discriminated against at any of these levels because of their condition.

  • Privacy Rights in the Workplace: This set of rights prevents an employer from inquiring about a person’s medical condition, including mental health. One has the right to reveal her condition only when he wants to access the benefits defined by law.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Although certain antisocial tendencies, such as kleptomania, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, etc., have been excluded from the scope of this law, most mental health conditions, such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and schizophrenia have been included. The Law was approved in 1990 and has precautionary measures against any type of discrimination based on physical and mental disability in the workplace, government services, etc.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Under this Act, certain employees may take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave during a 12-month period for a number of conditions, including to care for a child or spouse with a serious health condition that It can be a physical or mental illness.
  • Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA): This Act provides support to government agencies, jails, prisons, state or local mental health centers or centers for developmental disabilities and mental retardation, etc. to stop problems related to abuse, neglect and rehabilitation.

Based on bias, implicit or explicit, and existing stereotypes regarding mental health conditions, an employer cannot decide whether a person can perform a task based on the requirement. In addition, the employer based on the laws mentioned above cannot claim that the employee in question is a risk to the safety of others.

The employer is required to provide substantial evidence of any type of change in the job and role of the employee with mental illness. The evidence must be guided by reason and be objective and not hearsay. An employee with a mental health condition is within his rights when he refuses to divulge information about his condition.

There are some cases where you will be asked to provide information about your mental condition:

  • The granting of a reasonable accommodation to allow a person with mental illness to do their job to the best of their ability, including the ability to work from home.
  • Mandatory for all employees to share information related to mental health.
  • Reliable evidence that corroborates that the employee in question represents a security risk due to his condition.

For most conditions that are “substantially limiting,” or in which a person is incapacitated by their disorder to perform their job to their optimum ability, a reasonable accommodation may be sought. Most mental health conditions, such as major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and OCD, fall into the “substantially limiting” category. Therefore, depending on the nature of the job, one could work from home or seek a flexible work environment and hours.

Dealing with mental illness

With the right medication, counseling and therapy, it’s possible to keep some of the powerful and life-threatening symptoms of a mental health condition at bay that could interfere with the rigors of employment.

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