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Thread: How to get employer to take mental health seriously

  1. #1
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    How to get employer to take mental health seriously

    I've been employed through my current employer for nearly three and a half years. I was dealing with some mental health ( depression and very bad anxiety) issues when I first started, but they have progressed at some points during this time and have remained a constant issue for me.

    I feel like my managers do not take me seriously. A previous manager asked me if I was sure I had these things because I seemed "normal" and she "never would have guessed. She's not there anymore but I still have 3 managers.

    I know what my triggers are and I do my best to avoid them. But it seems they are either careless or try to push my limits.

    It is a retail job where I am trained in every department of the store. One of my triggers is being put to work in the fitting room and another is being on cash alone. I love being on cash if there is another associate up there but if I'm alone I get so sick to my stomach and will have a panic attack. And being put into the fitting room is similar. I feel like I'm trapped and the walls are closing in and I get physically sick and can't breathe.

    Also, i walk 40 minutes to work and 40 minutes home everyday. This is because I don't drive and my anxiety does not allow me to take a bus or a taxi.
    Because of this, we have been in agreement that I won't be scheduled at night because it is dark and I don't feel comfortable or safe being a young female walking alone at night down a busy street.

    And yet, they randomly schedule me for night shifts or tell me to cover the fitting room.

    They do recognize that I have these issues but it's like - if they are strapped and need someone my issues don't matter and I should just "get over them" because "everyone has to do stuff they don't want to do".
    They don't understand that it isn't that I don't want to, but more that I physically can't without being sick.

    Last week I was scheduled for a night shift and brought it up to my manager and she apologized said she didn't realize and she tweaked it so that I wasn't there once it got dark. Then tonight I was scheduled for another one. And I would have tried to switch with someone but a coworker was finishing a bit later than me and said she would drive me home.
    I have no problem working nights if I have a ride. So anyways, I only took this shift because I had a guaranteed ride.

    5oclock comes around ( Its already dark here ) and my manager comes to me and said they were short staffed and the girl who was gonna drive me home is now staying until the store closed and basically sorry about your luck find another way home.

    Long story short we got into it, she couldn't understand why I couldn't just hop a bus or take a cab, got angry with me and very rude and snippy saying fine let her leave we'll be short handed all night blah blah etc. Making it my fault.

    I am going to be changing my availability so that the night thing doesn't happen anymore but what can I do about not being put in places I'm triggered. My doctor will nit write a note about it nor do I expect him to.
    My employer won't put into writing that they won't ask me to work in those departments. I feel defeated.

  2. #2
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    The only way I was allowed a special accommodation at work was to have my doctor submit documentation.

    Why is your doctor refusing to provide documentation? And why won't you ask her or him to do so? Seems like it would be a simple solution.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member j.man's Avatar
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    I mean, I'll tell you why. It's because without medical documentation and a prescribed work detail, you've got no backing of the ADA, and they're under no obligation nor motivation to inconvenience themselves to find a way for you to fit their needs. They *might* if, for instance, you were absolutely killing it when provided reasonable accommodations or in a setting that doesn't trigger you, but I can't attest to the quality and productivity of your work in those situations.

    The best you can in lieu of taking formal measures is probably to assert your availability, hope they'll notice you doing amazing when you are in your comfort zone, or look for other work if it's all too much. Respecting your situation and anxiety, it sounds like it really sucks. Hopefully you do someday get the formal documentation or the voluntary accommodation.
    Last edited by j.man; 12-21-2018 at 11:38 PM.

  4. #4
    Platinum Member figureitout23's Avatar
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    I agree with bolt. Your only option may be seeing your Dr. An appt with a counselor or a therapist may be very beneficial though.

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  6. 12-21-2018, 11:45 PM

  7. #5
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    Originally Posted by bmars87
    I am going to be changing my availability so that the night thing doesn't happen anymore but what can I do about not being put in places I'm triggered. My doctor will nit write a note about it nor do I expect him to.
    My employer won't put into writing that they won't ask me to work in those departments. I feel defeated.
    Then you have essentially zero leg to stand on, OP.

    I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but your triggers are not your employer's problem if you have no medical documentation to back up your claims. This is why it's essential you speak to your doctor. I'm at a loss as to why you don't expect your doctor's support; that's what they are there for.

    If you cannot do the job under the circumstances required, you should probably look for different work.

  8. #6
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    Are up UK op ... It is still a confusing grey area here isn't it , but there is stuff set in place it is just a case of knowing what , of them knowing what and agreeing on a decent plan to execute it .
    I am also unable ..well actually not unable ...but I prefer to use my electric bike for everything ( bit of a standing joke amongst my friends as there are many times you can't actually see me and the bike for shopping )

    You really need to do your homework on this one , maybe ring up CAB and know exactly what demands you can make , what demands they can make etc etc ...Us all in different countries here doesns't help in the way that we will have such different * rules * we have to live to by . CAB will also tell you what your GP is obliged to do ( you will probably have to pay ) and are you with the mental health people , because they can also write with your permission .

    So in all , really do your homework on this one .

  9. 12-22-2018, 02:43 AM

  10. 12-22-2018, 02:51 AM

  11. #7
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    Op it is those kind of people that you are up agaisnt .... lack of mental health education and sheer ignorance .

  12. 12-22-2018, 04:05 AM

  13. #8
    Platinum Member Annia's Avatar
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    I'm living in a Scandinavian country at the moment and work for a big company. Here they're very understanding with taking days off if you need and accommodating if you have kids and stuff like that. You can call sick several times a year with no consequence. It's also very hard to fire people here. But even here after a certain point you need a doctor to write you an attest so that you can take days off or have special accommodation. Also, without it the people at work might start secretly to resent you. Especially in areas like retail where people have different shifts and need to cover the open and closing hours. I'm a very flexible person with no family here and I'm very accommodating and even I have felt a little resented when colleagues that are constantly calling sick make it so that I have the triple of work or have to have a crappier shift than it was planed, though I feel sympathy for them.

    Anyway, ask your doctor for proper documentation or change jobs if this is too much for you. I have a feeling you're avoiding the doctor because of your anxiety. And please seek treatment. You don't have to live like this and professionals can teach you coping mechanisms and how to manage your anxiety.

    I'm very sorry you have to live like this but I commend you for trying and doing your best. I suffer from anxiety too and I've had panic attacks before (though from what you say my problem seems to be much less intense than yours and I don't have these extreme intense triggers like you). I really hope you can find solutions that improve your life quality.

  14. #9
    Platinum Member Snny's Avatar
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    Honestly I see both sides of the issue. Right around (and after) Christmas is the busiest time for retail companies. By the end of the day they have to run a business. This is not the time to start complaining about accommodations UNLESS you have medical documentation to prove so. Without that documentation, the company can let you go if they feel you are inadequate to perform your assigned tasks.

    Please schedule a doctors appointment ASAP and get a letter that supports the request for accommodations.

  15. #10
    Platinum Member itsallgrand's Avatar
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    I can see both sides too. And it's not that I don't understand what it's like to work with mental health issues. I've personally experienced it.
    Things like transportation though are your responsibility and will be even if you change jobs. Your mental health status doesn't prevent you from arranging your own reliable transport, and making sure you are at all shifts you agree to.
    You can't expect an employer to adapt to a failure on your part to do that. And you can't expect employers to tolerate you bailing on shifts and duties.

    If you can not perform the job as you were hired to do, then it may be time to find a job that fits you better.

    I've certaining been on the end as well of working beyond my tasks and fair share in order to accomadte those who simply can perform duties or do not wish to, and try and keep in mind other people. People will generally be fair if you are an asset and do not allow yourself to be seen as a liability.

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