Mission Possible has worked for and with individuals with disabilities for many years. We readily recognize that not all disabilities are “visible” and are aware of the challenges our clients face when thinking about going to or returning to work after achieving disabled status and Social Security Benefits.
For example, “mental illness is not readily observable and one does not have to disclose their disability to a potential employer. Yet, because mental health affects responses to stress (like starting a new job!) and how you interact with others on the job. The good news is that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA.gov homepage) provides protection from discrimination in all areas of life, including the workplace.” (Employment Supports for People with Invisible Disabilities – Ticket to Work – Social Security (ssa.gov))
According to the National ADA Network (https://adata.org/national-network ), a disability is “any physical or mental impairment that significantly limits one or more of your major life activities. If your mental illness makes it difficult to perform important tasks at work, accommodations can allow you to better perform the essential functions of your job.”
“For example, someone navigating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may struggle with anxiety and have difficulty focusing and making decisions at work. This can be stressful because they never know when their symptoms will show up. Some workplace accommodations that could help, in this instance include requesting written instructions to help address memory issues or adjusting the break schedule to accommodate a therapy appointment.
“Other examples or workplace accommodations with mental health conditions include:
- Allowing noise cancelling headphones to help reduce distracting noises
- Having access to apps for anxiety and stress
- Using wall planners or a color-coded system to help with time management and managing confusion
- Discussing flexible scheduling or options for working from home.
How Do I Request Reasonable Accommodations?
“In order to receive an accommodation, you’ll need to discuss your disability with your employer, but talking about disclosure (Disclosure: Let’s Talk About It – Ticket to Work – Social Security (ssa.gov)) doesn’t have to be difficult.
- Keep it simple, you don’t have to go into every detail.
- You can talk to your supervisor, HR representative or ADA Coordinator and put your request in writing to document your request.
- If you have additional concerns about mental health support while maintaining employment, while coping with mental illness, find out if your employer has an Employee Assistance program (EAP) that allows you access to mental health professionals and counseling. EAP also offer tools for identifying triggers, tips for stress management. EAPs are usually offered at no cost to you as an employee; however there may be a limited number of sessions.” Employment Supports for People with Invisible Disabilities – Ticket to Work – Social Security (ssa.gov)
I hope in sharing some of this information you will be better prepared to utilize the tools available to you to achieve workplace success in spite of your “Invisible Disability”.
‘Till next time,