Working while living with a mental health condition is often difficult. While some companies are becoming more aware of the importance of workplace mental health, not all employers are accommodating. It takes a lot of time and energy to apply for a new job, and it is deflating to start a new job only to find out the environment is not conducive to your mental health and well-being.
Perhaps the duties of the position are more demanding than what was initially expected, the hours are excessively long, or there is no HR support. To prevent this situation, job seekers can prioritize finding an employer that cares about mental health. Here’s how.
Do Your Research
A quick web search is a great way to get a general overview of a company and their stance on health and wellness. Many larger businesses make their commitment to mental health clear directly on their home pages. Forums on sites like Glassdoor and Fairygodboss can reveal a company’s general attitude toward its employees through first-hand accounts. If there are any red flags, such as a laundry list of complaints on Glassdoor, it may be a sign to work somewhere else, or at least to tread carefully and pay close attention during the hiring process.
Ken Dolan Del-Vecchio, a corporate health and wellness leader and licensed therapist, suggests seeking an employer that has multiple people devoted to ensuring a healthy and productive work environment. This information may be available on the business’ website, or may be gleaned during an interview.
“Smart leaders do all they can to consistently provide environments that help employees sustain their optimal health,” said Dolarn Del-Vecchio. “At large employers, this work may involve a multitude of collaborative efforts that include the company’s Health and Wellness, HR, Diversity, and Ethics teams.”
He emphasized that having “Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), stress-reduction apps, Fitbits, onsite gyms, and yoga classes” are positive elements of a healthy working environment, but human support systems are even more essential.
Ask Questions and Listen Carefully
Asking questions during the interview process is always a great idea. After all, interviews are a way for both parties to figure out whether the working relationship will be a good fit. The answers to these questions — and any other information given during an interview — can reveal a lot about a company, and their attitudes about employee well-being on and off the job.
Questions such as “What are the characteristics you value most in a prospective employee?” or “What would a typical day in my prospective position consist of?” can help you determine if the rigors and expectations for the role fit your personal mental health needs. The tone and manner in which an interviewer answers can also be telling. Remember, if this person isn’t likable in the interview, they probably will not be easy to work with as a supervisor.
Assess Available Resources
After researching and interviewing with a potential employer, before any decisions are made, job seekers should assess the resources the employer has for mental health needs, as well as the general attitudes picked up on during the interview process. One point to consider is whether you’d be comfortable revealing a mental health issue in the work environment.
“Leaders at all levels need to create workplaces where employees feel valued, cared about as human beings, and respected regardless of whether they happen to mention that they have a health condition of any sort, including a mental illness,” Dolan Del-Vecchio said.
Transitioning to a new job is stressful enough. If there are people on board at a company to make life in a new workplace easier, it is wise to ask them for help.
Reach out to professionals outside of the workplace, like a therapist. Once your support system is in place, put your best foot forward in your new position.