It’s no secret that mental health has become a major issue across today’s workforce. If you haven’t yet had to consider workplace accommodations for depression and anxiety, odds are high that you will soon.
Depression is one of the top three workplace problems employee assistance professionals face, rivaled only by family crises and stress.
But let’s face it: family crises can lead to stress, and stress can lead to depression. And depression can lead to stress. And stress can lead to family crises. So really, they’re all related.
If you don’t nip depression in the bud, it can spiral and result in decreased employee morale, increased sick time, and ultimately, higher turnover.
Depression also often goes hand-in-hand with anxiety. It’s one of the most common mental health comorbidities, with around 60% of people who have depression also experiencing anxiety, and vice versa.
56% of employees with anxiety feel it impacts their workplace performance, 51% feel it affects their relationships with their colleagues and peers, half feel it affects the quality of their work, and 43% find it impacts their relationships with their superiors. These are all pretty significant issues.
So, what workplace accommodations for depression and anxiety can you make to help mitigate—and hopefully, eventually eradicate—these challenges?
Come up with strategies together
Depression and anxiety can both come with sides of brain fog. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give your employee a say over their workplace accommodations, though. Not giving them a voice is only likely to make their mental health worse.
Instead, listen to them, let them explain how they feel, and see if they know what might help (from, say, reading a blog post like this one). Then, work together to come up with coping strategies.
Once you’ve devised a plan, write it down so you both know what you’ve agreed on.
Refer to the agreement regularly and check in to see if any further changes need to be made.
Communicate clearly and be specific
There’s nothing worse than someone saying, “We need to talk,” when you have anxiety. It can cause anything from mild panic to sheer terror.
Please, when you schedule a meeting with anyone, tell them what it’s for. This is good for respecting employees’ time and helping mitigate any potential worries whether they have a mental health condition or not.
Even better, have a clear agenda that allows for all attendees to plan beforehand. (And maybe even give them permission to not attend any meetings that don’t have a clear agenda, so their time doesn’t get wasted.)
This is one of the simplest workplace accommodations for depression and anxiety, but also an incredibly important one.
Watch your words
Most people mean well when they say things like “You’re so strong for doing X while Y is happening.”
But when you’re on the receiving end of it, it can feel irritating and condescending. Especially if the person who says it doesn’t know the full story.
It also then means that that person may feel less able to be vulnerable in future scenarios, so it puts them at greater risk of burnout.
It should be okay to be vulnerable. It’s being able to express those negative emotions that can lead to greater resilience and stronger mental health long-term.
Offer flexible working
A strict 9-5 schedule doesn’t work for everyone. And sometimes a person may not feel great in the morning, but they may be able to work later in the day.
Also, employees should be able to attend doctor’s or therapist’s appointments during working hours.
Many healthcare settings aren’t open outside of traditional 9-5 hours, which means that if an employee doesn’t have flexible work options, they have to use up their paid time off. Which is really unfair when a healthy employee doesn’t need to do that.
Having less paid time off to relax can have a damaging impact on employees’ mental health, making their situation even worse. Especially when their colleagues aren’t in the same boat. This is one of the workplace accommodations for depression and anxiety that can make for a more equitable company culture.
Allow regular breaks
Sitting at a desk for four-hour chunks at a time isn’t normal. No one should have to sit still for that long because of the numerous health issues it causes and exacerbates.
Let all your employees get up and move about; have a chat in the kitchen about what they watched on TV last night; make a drink to stay hydrated. All these things are good for everyone’s mental and physical health.
So long as they get the work done, that’s the most important thing, right?
Sometimes, when we’re feeling stuck, talking our situation through with someone can help.
Coaching can be a great way to offer workplace accommodations for depression and anxiety. It supports people dealing with these challenges, and helps them find a path toward what they want to achieve while giving them something positive to work on.
Remove non-essential duties
When our mental health is struggling, tasks can take more energy.
To help, is there anything non-essential you could take off of your employee’s plate?
For example, do they really need to go to that meeting? Or could you share the notes with them after?
Meeting attendance often doesn’t need to be mandatory. Many attendees’ time could be better spent on their tasks, rather than sitting in a meeting where they can’t get a word in anyway as there are too many cooks in the kitchen.
Break down tasks into smaller chunks
Tasks can feel overwhelming when you’re short on energy. The smaller the chunks you break a task down into, the more dopamine it triggers in the brain. And therefore, the bigger the boost to mental wellbeing.
It also makes the task less intimidating and therefore easier to do. Getting the ball rolling can be the hardest part, so focusing on something smaller can really help get someone out of a funk.
For instance, when writing a blog post, I don’t list my task as “write a blog post.” Instead, I break it down into:
- Structural editing
- Copy editing
- Send to client
- Client edits (if required)
These smaller chunks mean I can do one task a day, or do several a day, and still feel like I’ve accomplished things. Something as simple as making it easier for someone to see and track their progress on tasks can do wonders as workplace accommodations for depression and anxiety.
Depression and anxiety are horrible diseases that don’t just impact the person going through them, but the people around them, too.
It’s not always easy to ask for help when struggling, so offering to support employees in an empathetic way can help them get back on their feet.
But remember: they didn’t get to this point overnight, and they won’t get better overnight, either. Plus, while one employee is improving, another may be in the early stages of these challenges.
That’s why it’s important to document your workplace accommodations for depression and anxiety somewhere easily accessible, so everyone knows what’s available when they’re struggling.
While you’re at it, why not make everything employees need easier for them to find? Workrowd enables you to centralize all your employee resources, programs, groups, and events, giving team members one-stop shopping in a user-friendly hub.
You can securely manage versioning, track participation levels, and leverage real-time analytics to ensure your workplace accommodations for depression and anxiety are meeting the need.
Sound like this could be useful for your organization? Great! We’d love to learn more and discuss ways to partner on elevating your employee experience. Visit us online or send us a note at email@example.com to learn more.