Maintaining consistent employment while struggling through anxiety and/or depression can be exhausting to say the least. These conditions can make it difficult to stay focused on tasks, cause fatigue, and also cause feelings of fear and panic. These struggles often can cause rifts in the workplace between employees and managers and lead to productivity issues amongst employees and across departments.
The good news is that there is help! The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can help employed individuals who struggle with these debilitating conditions receive assistance and accommodations.
This means that the answer is yes, you absolutely can request for accommodations at work. But how does this process work?
Requesting Accommodations for Depression and Anxiety
According to the ADA, if you are diagnosed with depression or anxiety, then you automatically have the right to request certain accommodations at work. The easiest way to handle this process is to be honest and direct with your employer. Schedule a time to sit down with them one-on-one and explain to them how you were diagnosed and the details of what you are struggling with. Due to this, you are entitled to reasonable accommodations.
The important thing to note, however, is that in order to receive accommodations, you need to ask! Employers are not required to guess or seek out disabilities in employees. They are required to accommodate those who are honest, however. If your depression or anxiety is making work too overwhelming, changes such as a modified schedule, a less noisy office space, or more help tracking your assignments and workload may help.
We recommend placing your request for reasonable accommodations in writing as well as verbally in order to validate your efforts in the case that problems arise. Many employers understand the necessity to offer these accommodations, so this is a rare occurrence.
Are Employers Required to Follow My Request?
Employers, according to the ADA, are required to provide a “flexible, interactive process” with the employee in order to come to agreeable terms. For example, if your manager employs a very harsh approach to these issues when you bring them up, you may try to approach a different supervisor about the issue.
This can result in a mediator being provided to help you reach a more agreeable position with your manager and to help find common ground.
Common Accommodations for Depression and Anxiety
The accommodations that you eventually receive must be directly related to issues caused by your condition(s). Here are some examples of solutions that employees typically receive:
Depression and anxiety commonly require regular therapy as an intervention. Additionally, some days, symptoms can be so severe that you may not be able to make it into the office. This can lead to accommodations being made for off-days to be provided in these cases. Remote work systems are also a good way to handle these issues, as they can help enable the employee to be productive on days when making it into the office simply isn’t realistic.
Memory and Organization
Anxiety, in particular, can make it very difficult to retain and organize important information. For this reason, many employers opt to offer these employees with additional tools that can help them stay organized and informed. There are a variety of memory aids available, ranging from white boards to tape recorders to extensive notes. Try to ask your supervisor to provide feedback and details of your work in writing or ask for frequent check-ins and help breaking down big projects into more manageable tasks.
Anxiety and depression can cause individuals to be very easily stimulated and affected by their surroundings. This makes it helpful to ask for an environment that has minimal distractions and stimuli that can throw off your concentration. For example, if you work near a busy and noisy conference room, you might request to have a desk or office in a more remote area of the office in order to have more focus and be less likely to have anxious feelings.
Dealing with anxiety and depression is no easy task and can make performing under certain conditions nearly impossible. This makes it imperative to be honest about the conditions you suffer from in order to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. When dealing with accommodations for anxiety and depression, be honest, direct, and don’t be afraid to ask!
HR Search and Rescue is a full-service HR consulting firm. Their team takes pride in their ability to promote a safe and healthy work environment for employees, managers, HR directors, and executives alike.