This is the third in a series of posts in May to commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental Health America’s website at http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may has scores of ideas to help make people more aware about the importance of good mental health.
DISability is not the same thing as INability, and people with mental health issues are no different. While it’s true that a mental illness or condition may interfere with one’s ability to function at work – it’s also true that it may have no effect at all!
The employer should always ask the person with a disability what accommodations that he/she needs to be successful at work. The individual with the impairment often knows best. However, if the person isn’t sure, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) maintains scores of possible solutions on a wide variety of disabilities, or its staff can assist. Check out: http://askjan.org.
Possible limitations & solutions
* Difficulty handling multiple tasks: The individual may have trouble managing assignments, setting priorities or meeting deadlines. For instance, he/she may not know how to decide which tasks to do first in order to complete a project by its due date.
* Possible solutions: Break larger projects into more manageable tasks; meet regularly with the employee and/or job coach to help prioritize or estimate how long it will take to meet a deadline.
* Difficulty interacting with others: For instance, the person may e too shy to talk with co-workers at breaks, or he/she may have trouble figuring out “how things work around here.”
* Possible solution: Pair the new employee with a co-worker who can introduce him/her around and show the individual the ropes.
* Difficulty adapting to change: Unexpected changes at work, such as new rules, job accommodations or a new supervisor and/or co-workers, may be unusually stressful. For example, it may take the individual longer to learn new tasks or he/she may feel especially anxious around new co-workers.
* Possible solutions: Give the employee advance warning of changes as much as possible; make a special effort to introduce new co-workers to the employee; stress to the employee that he/she needs to notify new supervisors of individual needs.