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Naomi Osaka’s recent withdrawal from the French Open because of mental health issues highlights the issue of mental health in the workplace. A good article recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal concerning this larger issue. Certainly spurred on by the Covid virus pandemic. Here are some highlights of that article:

  • Ms. Osaka’s openness about her mental-health struggles is a public example of private issues companies are increasingly facing as a young generation more candid about such challenges joins the workforce, employers say.
  • Data show a gap between how well employers think they are supporting employees and how supported those employees feel.
  • Survey research also indicates that younger workers are more likely than older colleagues to report mental-health struggles
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act counts mental illness as a protected disability if it substantially limits a major life activity, like working. In such a case, employers are required to work with employees to find accommodations that may enable them to do their job, such as more frequent breaks or written instructions instead of verbal ones.
  • But symptoms of conditions covered by the act (ADA), such as severe anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, can be ambiguous and highly individual, making accommodations a challenging area for companies to navigate.
  • Employers have viewed mental health with greater urgency in recent years.  
  • You want to keep your high performers, and what we know is people with mental-health conditions can often be your high performers.
  • Still, greater awareness about the issue helps companies and workers move forward.

“Mental Health and Work.” Wall Street Journal (June 5th, 2021).