image of a group huddleIf you have a mental illness and are looking for work, you may have questions about finding a mental health-friendly employer. Here are 4 signs to look for and 3 tips to help you transition to the workplace.

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Identifying a Mental Health-Friendly Employer

May 23, 2019

image of a group huddleThroughout the month, we've discussed mental health topics like working with post-traumatic stress disorder and self-care habits that you can add to your routine.

Today, we'll talk about mental health and employment. Whether you're returning to work or looking for a job for the first time, identifying an employer that's mental health-friendly can help you feel more comfortable as you transition to a workplace.

4 characteristics of a mental health-friendly employer

A good track record: Do you know people who work at a specific company? Ask them about the work environment. Current and past employees can offer you a lot of insight about the level of respect and dignity an employer offers. You may even find that someone's willing to talk about an experience they've had requesting an accommodation and how smoothly the process went.

Flexible timing and scheduling: Being able to balance your work responsibilities and your own needs can make the transition to employment smoother. Often, businesses allow employees to work outside of the typical 9 – 5 schedule to ensure employees are able to be productive and care for themselves.

Specific Accommodations: Some employers may offer telecommuting options. Working from home, either some or all days, can offer the flexibility you need to transition to a work schedule.

Mental Health Benefits: If you receive Medicare or Medicaid, you may be eligible to continue receiving your healthcare benefits even once you start working, thanks to Social Security Work Incentives known as Continuation of Medicare Coverage and Medicaid While Working. However, as you transition to financial independence, you may find that your employer offers health insurance.

Some employers include mental health or substance use disorder (MH/SUD) benefits. Under the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity, if an employer offers MH/SUD benefits, your employer's group health plan and insurance company may only apply financial requirements (including copays) and treatment limitations in accordance with the same requirements and limitations as medical and surgical care. Understanding what your care options are under an employer's insurance plan can help you feel confident transitioning to the workplace and prepare to receive health insurance through your employer.

3 tips for transitioning to the workplace

Set manageable goals: Break down large tasks and projects into smaller goals. You may find that this reduces stress and helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed. Start by making a short to-do list each day or week to help you stay on track and prioritize the tasks you need to complete.

Take regular breaks: If you work in an office space, make sure you leave your desk a few times throughout the day. A short walk or trip outdoors if the weather allows or a few minutes of relaxation can help you clear your mind and decompress from large tasks. If you work in a different environment, talk with your manager about when you're allowed to take breaks and, if you think it's necessary, request to add additional break times to help you relax and refocus. This may require you to disclose your disability to your employer and request extra break times as a reasonable accommodation. You can use tips from the Job Accommodation Network to guide you through the process.

Take care of your physical health: The way you feel physically can affect your mood and symptoms of mental illness. As you transition to the workplace, establishing healthy routines focused on your physical health — exercising regularly, eating nutritious meals, drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep — may help you manage symptoms of mental illness.

Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

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