An estimated 26% of Americans – 1 in 5 – experience a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. Over the past decade, the lack of support and awareness surrounding mental health issues has contributed to a significant increase of the prevalence of mental illnesses. Mental illness statistics for the USA in 2020 report forty-eight million Americans had some type of anxiety disorder, which is 19.1%.
Under the ADA, the definition of disability includes people with mental illness who have a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities. Whether it is PTSD, bipolar disorder, or anxiety, there are protections out there for you.
According to Title 1 of the ADA, employers must provide reasonable accommodations to applicants and workers with disabilities unless this causes undue hardship. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy has listed appropriate accommodations for employees with psychiatric disabilities: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/program-areas/mental-health/maximizing-productivity-accommodations-for-employees-with-psychiatric-disabilities. Employers must engage in an interactive process with the employee to consider their reasonable accommodation request to determine if it is feasible to provide.
One form of accommodation may be the use of a service animal or an emotional support animal in the workplace. Worth noting is that while emotional support animals are not considered service animals under Titles ll and lll of the ADA, under Title l, they may have to be allowed. Service dogs are dogs that are specially trained to work with people with a variety of disabilities, including mental health disabilities. These service animals can provide their handlers with an independent life.
Just knowing that you are not alone in your struggles can help immensely when it comes to seeking treatment and help. Visiting a therapist under your insurance plan, keeping a weekly journal to write in, joining a support group, going to the gym, or taking a walk outside can do wonders to alleviate the burden of dealing with mental health issues.