Dirty Little Secrets

Nora Akins

The laws to protect mentally ill employees have been in place for years. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) makes sure group health plans provide as much treatment for mental illness and substance abuse as other medical and surgical benefits. The Americans with Disabilities Act includes the prohibition of discrimination and requires the exploration of accommodations for individuals who have mental impairments that qualify as a disability under the Act.

Yet most employers do not know how to provide employees with mental disorders their rights. Employers understand the need for a surgery, but not what is needed to help an employee with bipolar disorder succeed. Fortunately, employers are not charged with operating on or treating their employees. They are charged with understanding employees may have needs to be physically and mentally healthy and providing accommodations to have those needs lessened and/or treated so the employees can be successful in their jobs.

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