As a person with bipolar disorder, mental illness feels like a balancing act. In order to stay healthy, I have to be sure to take my meds, get enough sleep, and stay attuned to my mood. I am always aware of the potential for the symptoms of mania and depression to recur, and must be prepared to manage them.
A healthy workplace environment is key to managing those symptoms at work – and it involves many of the same supports that all workers appreciate, things like access to employee assistance programs, health coverage, work-life balance policies and reasonable accommodations. Supports like these mean I’m not sitting on the sidelines with my skills and experience – I’m coming to work and getting in the game. And for the countless businesses that employ people with mental health issues, it means a productive, appreciative workforce.
Living with a mental illness also includes being aware of the stigma that comes along with it. A misperception about people with mental health disabilities is that they are weak or have a flawed character, rather than recognizing the biological basis of these conditions. Sadly, attitudes like these prevent people from seeking the help that they need to live healthy lives, and may discourage employers from hiring skilled, productive workers.
One of the key factors in maintaining my own health has been having a job. Employment has given me focus, allowed me to support myself, and kept me looking forward through difficult times. I have been fortunate to have employers who provided me with job accommodations, stuck by me through hospitalizations, and allowed me the time to recover and return to work.
Just as many employers readily accommodate an employee experiencing symptoms of…Click here to read the rest of the blog post.