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Oklahoma For 25 Years

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Should I tell my employer about my mental disability?

In a prior post, we highlighted the way that Social Security disability benefits can help people suffering from mental disabilities. Essentially, people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and schizophrenia, for example, can petition for benefits so that they can help make ends meet. It is estimated that mental illness is a reason for many new petitions. 

So even while relief can be obtained for those who have a difficult time obtaining (or maintaining) a job because of their conditions, many people wonder if they should tell their employers about their struggles with mental illness. After all, mental illness is still steeped in social stigma despite its notoriety. In fact, the mass shootings that are covered in the media almost always involve a person who has a history of mental illness or psychiatric care.

Those who suffer from such disabilities may not want to reveal their condition out of fear that assignments will be taken away from them, that they may lose friends and allies in the office, or that they may even be terminated. However, there is a catch-22 with this position, because if a person asks for time off or falls behind on assignments because they are battling their disability, they may be viewed as an underachiever an may be fired anyway.

Fortunately, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is geared towards protecting people with disabilities in the workplace, but those who have been wronged may not have the resources to have their cases heard.

Nevertheless, the choice to tell an employer about mental disabilities is an intensely personal one. Talking it over with family, friends and an experienced attorney can help with the decision. 

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