Remote Work Can Help Those With Mental Health Struggles
You have decided you want to go back to work, but according to a 2015 survey, you are one in three Social Security Administration’s disability beneficiaries who has a mental illness and you’re not sure how it will work for you.
Fortunately, there are systems in place to help make the adjustments to getting back to work and being successful.
“First, you should know you are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Alan Hubbard, NTI@Home’s Chief Operating Officer. For more than 25 years as a nonprofit organization, NTI@Home has helped Americans with disabilities find at-home jobs. “Companies also know they have to follow the guidelines.”
If you decide to go back to work, the ADA says you have the right to request accommodations to help you succeed in the workplace, which can include flexible hours, adjusted job tasks, leave (paid or unpaid) during periods of illness or hospitalization, being assigned a supportive and understanding boss, and regular guidance and feedback about job performance. With its Ticket to Work program, Social Security helps people find the support they need.
“Often with any accommodation, the cost is very little to companies and is good business practice to adopt for all their employees,” said Hubbard.
Remote work can also benefit people with mental illness, as their stress and productivity can improve, according to a study by Mental Health America.
Being at home eliminates home-to-work commutes, with the average time on the road almost 27 minutes each way. In the study, 71 percent of the people said they would like to work from their residence.
Individuals also cited reducing distractions during the workday, interruptions from colleagues, staying out of office politics, a quieter work environment, being more comfortable, and being in a personalized work environment as reasons to work from home.
“From working to help people find remote jobs for more than 25 years, we have heard all about the benefits they receive from working at home,” said Hubbard. “It can really be a health benefit for people.”
When you are working, there are several things you can do to be successful and avoid stress on the job:
- Take frequent breaks away from the computer. If you can, it’s a good idea to move around.
- Making a to-do list can also be very helpful in keeping your focus and not getting overwhelmed.
-Make sure you aren’t over-committing yourself, as that can be stressful.
“Think before you commit to a project, assignment, or committee position,” says Phillip A. Ginter, Regional Director of Community Initiatives at HealthlinkNY, according to the Mental Health National blog. “Consider your needs and available resources and evaluate whether it will lead to overextending yourself.”
- Be aware of things that can trigger problems for you.
- Drinking water and staying hydrated while working has also shown to be effective.
- If you are feeling mental distress, make sure to talk to human resources about what can be done to help. By law, they are required to address the issue with you.
“It’s important to remember that you don’t have to suffer, “said Hubbard. “You’re not alone and there are systems in place for you. If you are going back to work, make sure you have a game plan to help you be successful on the job.”
(National Telecommuting Institute (NTI@Home) has been helping Americans with disabilities find at-home jobs for more than 25 years, working in remote call centers. NTI@Home has jobs available right now and offers job training and placement services when you register for free at www.ntiathome.org.)