Intended for use by employers and business owners, this resource provides recommendations to address the needs of individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) in the workplace. Employment is vital to recovery and stability for individuals with SMI. However, people with serious mental illness may face barriers to obtaining and maintaining a job. Sixty-four percent of individuals with serious mental illness do not have full-time employment. But employers can benefit from creating policies that promote supportive workplace conditions. Supportive workplace conditions not only help people with serious mental illness but can improve recruitment and workplace morale.

This eight-page publication offers seven recommendations:

  • Develop policies, processes, and procedures: plans for mental health leave of absence, crisis intervention, and reasonable accommodations should be in place to support people with mental illness or other disabilities.
  • Build a supportive culture: employers have a responsibility to challenge stigma in their staff and themselves through programming and education.
  • Require training: supervisors and leadership staff should be trained in identifying behaviors linked to mental health issues and creating an environment where employees can freely voice concerns.
  • Offer reasonable accommodations: scheduling flexibility, memory aids, written instructions for tasks, and other accommodations can help people with serious mental illness or disabilities perform their tasks. See the table on page 5 for further examples.
  • Develop a plan: identifying long- and short-term goals with the employee, planning responses specific to the needs of an employee, and building in check-ins can create specific expectations for employer and employee.
  • Maintain privacy and confidentiality: employers have a responsibility to keep the accommodations for and mental health of an employee confidential and should not expect all people to disclose a disability unless they need accommodations.
  • Evaluate the impact: gather metrics to assess the effect programs and policies have on the workplace.

Disclaimer: The recommendations included in this document should not be considered legal advice. They serve as suggestions or points of discussion towards improved workplace conditions for people with serious mental illness.

This resource was first shared in 2018.


(PDF Document)