As we celebrate our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex colleagues in all of their diversity this Pride Month, we recognize there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to supporting LGBTQI+ employees on the job. This includes promoting mental health at work.
A majority of employees experience work-related stress and some populations are more at risk of mental health problems – including LGBTQI+ people. There are many reasons for this, including systemic barriers that challenge people from accessing needed support. Additionally, research shows the stigmatization, discrimination and violence that many LGBTQI+ individuals face can result in depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions.
There are things we can all do to help promote mental health-friendly workplaces. Here are a few to consider:
- Help build an inclusive and culturally competent workplace for everyone. Recognizing and affirming people’s identities – through our behaviors, language, policies and practices – helps create a respectful environment that also supports employees’ mental health. At the U.S. Department of Labor, we’ve outlined the responsibilities of managers and supervisors when it comes to creating a welcoming environment and addressing discrimination, but everyone can model respect.
- Reduce the stigma. Even though 1 in 5 Americans reports having a mental health condition each year, many of us are still hesitant to discuss mental health and its treatment, especially at work. It’s time to understand that mental health is health – period – and to adjust our culture at work accordingly. Managers and supervisors can offer assistance and accommodations, co-workers can listen and offer support, and people with mental health conditions can ask for what they need to succeed on the job, even if they choose not to disclose their condition. Employers can use this toolkit to get started.
- Share resources. Did you know the Family and Medical Leave Act covers mental health conditions? And that some health plans are required to cover mental health and substance use services? The Job Accommodation Network, a service of our Office of Disability Employment Policy, has guidance on workplace accommodations for people with mental health conditions and provides free, confidential assistance to workers and employers. Help us get the word out about these protections and resources that can make a difference.
Along with the entire administration, we’re committed to building a more inclusive, equitable, supportive workplaces for all. Learn more about promoting mental health at work, and about the Labor Department’s resources and protections for LGBTQI+ workers.
Matt Lewis is the director of the Workplace Equality and Compliance Office in the Labor Department’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management.