Promoting Acceptance and Social Inclusion for People with Mental Health Problems in the Workplace
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The workforce includes many individuals with mental health problems who, like other employees, contribute greatly to the success of the organizations that employ them. However, unlike their colleagues, people with mental health conditions may experience misunderstanding, social exclusion, and discrimination by employers or other employees due to prejudicial beliefs and attitudes about people with mental illnesses in the workplace.
Some of these misperceptions include beliefs that people with mental health problems cannot handle work-related stress, are unreliable, and need special attention. The fact is that work is often the best platform for recovery and most individuals benefit greatly from purposeful, meaningful activity that is socially valued and respected. Economic security and self-sufficiency also increase with stable and fulfilling employment. And, in addition to providing a living, work gives people a sense of belonging and community that provides the opportunity to create a network of friends and colleagues.
There are benefits to employers and employees when a business decides to promote a mentally healthy workplace. A mentally healthy workplace can positively affect productivity, cost-containment of health care, and employee retention. When employers value practices and policies that promote the mental health and well-being of their employees, perceptions and attitudes about mental illnesses improve and acceptance of these issues in the workplace increases. Some of the factors involved in a mentally healthy workplace include an atmosphere that welcomes diversity; health care that treats mental illnesses with the same urgency as physical illnesses; programs and/or practices that promote and support employee health-wellness and/or work-life balance; and training for managers and supervisors in mental health workplace issues.
Beth Loy, Ph.D.
Dr. Loy is a Principal Consultant with the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). In this capacity, she leads JAN's external evaluation process and internal continuous improvement process, providing leadership to JAN's teams of service delivery and information systems. This includes JAN's outreach and education, training programs, and Website development. Beth is a national researcher and speaker in the disability field and has a Ph.D. in Resource Economics with a specialization in social policy. At JAN, she provides research, writing, and statistics support regarding accommodation benefits and costs and the economic impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Beth presents several national trainings throughout the United States and she also works as an adjunct assistant professor for West Virginia University. Beth also teaches graduate and doctorate level introductory courses on statistics, advanced statistics, and research methods for West Virginia University.
Clare Miller serves as the Director of the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, a program of the American Psychiatric Foundation which advances effective employer approaches to mental health by combining the knowledge and experience of the American Psychiatric Association and its employer partners. Learn more at www.workplacementalhealth.org .
Prior to joining the Partnership, Clare was Manager of the Center for Prevention and Health Services at the National Business Group on Health (formerly the Washington Business Group on Health), a membership group representing large employers. Before that, Clare was Director for Public Policy at Mental Health America (formerly the National Mental Health Association), a national advocacy organization focused on improving the lives of people with mental illnesses.
Clare received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Salisbury University in Maryland.
Nicole M. Clevenger
Nicole M. Clevenger, BFA, is a Consultant and Trainer for the Ohio Supported Employment Coordinating Center of Excellence (Ohio SE CCOE). Currently, she assists mental health centers in evidence-based Supported Employment implementation through on-site training, consultation, and fidelity reviews. Nicole is also working on an Ohio Department of Mental Health (ODMH) sponsored collaborative initiative with peer centers/Consumer-Operated services in Ohio to help increase employment for people living with severe mental illness. Through her work at the CCOE, Nicole has written several articles and assisted in production of an audio resource describing her personal back-to-work story.
In addition, Nicole serves on the Ohio Supported Employment Advisory Committee as well as the Johnson & Johnson-Dartmouth Community Mental Health Program Advisory Board. She received her bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from Lake Erie College, with a concentration in visual arts.