Mental health is a big conversation nowadays. Nowadays, more people are running themselves ragged, entering burnout, and struggling with higher levels of depression and anxiety than ever before. It’s important for businesses to place emphasis on employee mental health and help those suffering from these symptoms.
There are plenty of workplace accommodations that can be integrated to improve an employee’s mental health and well-being. Below are fifteen popular workplace accommodations for depression and anxiety relief:
1. Flexible scheduling
As mental health issues like depression and anxiety can have an effect on a person’s ability to get to work on time consistently, their manager may make concessions as to how strict they will be for an individual’s tardiness. If the lateness is within a semblance of reason (say, less than half an hour), they may choose to turn the other cheek, or let the individual know they need not stress too much about coming in on the dot.
This is one of the best workplace accommodations for depression and anxiety relief, partly because it’s so easy to implement. Managers just need to be more understanding and forgiving over lateness, as long as it is within a reasonable context.
2. Workplace attendance
Management may also allow additional time off – either half days or full days – for doctors appointments and other medical appointments. If the individual is actively trying to seek help, that support will be much appreciated.
3. Allowing more frequent breaks
An easy accommodation to make is to encourage additional breaks for individuals struggling with mental health. Recommending a short five-minute break every hour, even, can help them to reset and become more productive.
4. Seating arrangement
There may also be changes that need to occur in the person’s environment. For example, the space where they work may not be ideal for focus, so changes may need to be made in order to help them with concentration during working hours.
The unnatural lighting in office spaces is often very hard on people, especially those struggling with mental health. Management could support the implementation of alternative lighting options which offer a more natural looking light.
6. Tools for limiting external distraction
External distraction can increase the amount of anxiety an individual has at work, especially if they feel they are unable to complete their tasks as a result of these distractions. Accommodations may be made for the individual to provide them with tools to decrease external distractions. These tools could include noise-cancelling headphones and the option or encouragement of closing the office door to block out other noises.
7. Tools for organization and memory
Other accommodations may be made to assist the individual with their organizational and memory skills. Anxiety and depression can really jumble up a person’s mind, and can cause short term memory problems. Tools like a white board or organizational software could be helpful for this.
8. Additional time to organize and understand tasks
While someone who is well may be able to take vague and quickly delivered tasks and turn it into productive work, someone who is struggling with anxiety or depression may not. Accommodations made to provide individuals with extra explanation and time to understand the tasks they are expected to complete is a good way to help.
9. Flexible work environment
Allowing individuals struggling with mental health issues to work from home, or telework, is another way to allow them to be in a comfortable environment while they work towards getting well. However, teleworking can also backfire as it may be more difficult to track tasks completed.
10. Additional feedback
Offering more feedback than normal, especially positive feedback can greatly assist individuals who are struggling with mental health. In addition, offering constructive and detailed feedback for tasks that were not well done is important in helping the person to do better and feel more confident.
11. Frequent check-in meetings
Management may want to set up short 10-minute check-in meetings once a week or even twice a week to help keep the person accountable and moving forward with their work. One of the best methods for helping individuals struggling with anxiety or depression is to work with them, not let them float on their own.
12. Management approaches
Management should also take a good look at their own approaches, and possibly try some different ones if they find that their current approaches aren’t super effective. They can try alternative methods and see what works best.
13. Decrease in responsibilities
Another effective accommodation is to decrease the number of responsibilities that person must take care of. In doing so, the person will hopefully be able to get a better grasp on their work life, which can help to decrease the pressure they have going on in their life in general.
14. Retraining and reorientation
If the individual has to take a leave of absence, it is important that they be given the opportunity to retrain and reorient themselves once they return. It is possible that coming back and trying to remember everything will cause more anxiety and stress.
15. Increased support for relearning
Another accommodation for those who have just returned from an extended leave of absence is to provide additional support for their relearning and retraining. This could include one-on-one training, or just the allowance of more time to understand each task before moving on to the next thing.