Recognizing Mental Health Month In May
When seeking employment, it’s common to consider our physical limitations, but what about our mental limitations? Too often, mental health considerations take a back seat, yet they can directly affect a worker's chance for success in the workplace.
In fact, mental health can impact a worker's confidence, focus, productivity, behavior and overall health. A recent study released in April of 2022 by Mental Health America reported that work-related mental health concerns remain significant following the COVID-19 pandemic, with 78% of respondents indicating that workplace stress affects their mental health and 71% who said they found it difficult to concentrate at work.
Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) transition specialist, Betty Schoen, says it’s imperative that workers with mental health issues know their limitations and ask for help if needed. “You have to be an advocate for yourself.”
Schoen knows these limitations well as she’s experienced her own mental health struggles and left a previous career after noticing the physical toll the stress was taking on her body. “The job was literally killing me,” she said. Schoen explains that symptoms of mental health stress in the workplace can present as fatigue, high absenteeism, a decline in physical health, not wanting to come to work and feeling overwhelmed.
The pressure and misconceptions associated with mental health can make it difficult for an employee to speak up about their limitations; however, there are steps that can be taken to mitigate stressors, including scheduling time to decompress through movement (i.e. walking, stretching) or to quiet the mind using a mindfulness practice or meditation. Many companies also offer confidential mental health resources, including access to counselors or workshops. If these are not available at your place of employment, you can find them by visiting the Mental Health America of Arizona website.
DES has services available to help job seekers and workers with mental health limitations achieve success in the workplace. DES and ARIZONA@WORK employment specialists can help ease some of the stress that comes along with finding a job through no-cost employment readiness programs including workshops, interview training, resume help, job search tips, upskilling opportunities and much more. Learn more about the resources available to job seekers on our website or use the virtual appointment scheduler to set up an appointment to meet with an employment specialist virtually.
The DES VR program can help individuals with diagnosed mental health disabilities connect to resources and accommodations to help them thrive in the workplace, school and live independently. Visit the VR webpage if you are having a difficult time finding or retaining employment because of a mental health issue or disability.
If you are having suicidal thoughts or are in crisis, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text "Connect" to 741741. If you suspect someone is contemplating hurting themselves, learn about the warning signs of suicide.
Find free mental health resources in Arizona here.