I recently volunteered to speak about career development to a support group for people living with depression and anxiety, and I listened to stories of devastation, disengagement, embarrassment and stress as they shared their journeys of working with depression and/or anxiety. I had brought along some information regarding their rights at work and the opportunities for support that are available both for the individual and their employer, and I was stunned to discover that none of the group members were aware of any of the information or resources that I talked about.
These programs and services are invaluable to support our community members who are living with depression and/or anxiety and information about what is available needs to be more widely advertised so that its benefit can be more widespread. Here are five little-known facts about successfully working with depression and/or anxiety:
1. Unless your depression/anxiety affects your job, you do not need to disclose it.
You are not legally obligated to disclose information about your diagnosed condition unless it is likely to directly affect your capacity to fulfill your work function or your ability to work safely. If you choose to disclose (or need to disclose due to its impact on your work capacity), you can choose what information is to be shared and how you wish to share it. Information about how to disclose that you have depression and/or anxiety can be found here.
It is important to note that if you choose not to disclose your condition, you could potentially miss out on opportunities to seek help or adapted responsibilities to suit your needs. The decision to disclose or not is one that needs careful consideration.
2. You can seek assistance from Disability Employment Service providers (such as The Personnel Group) when job seeking.
A diagnosis of depression or anxiety qualifies you to seek support from employment service providers who specialise in finding suitable positions with “disability confident” employers for people with individual needs. They are well-versed in support and subsidies available and they can guide you through the process.
3. The Australian Government offers grants and subsidies.
The Australian Government offers grants and subsidies to assist employers in supporting their employees living with disability. Free workplace assessments and modifications, wage subsidies and productivity-based wages are some of the ways that your employer can be supported in providing a “disability confident” workplace.
4. You can get help to negotiate a flexible work environment.
The Fair Work Ombudsman can provide advice regarding your rights to flexibility in the workplace and you can even get free expert employment advice to assist you in building a strategy. It is always more effective to take a solution to your boss than a problem, so do your research and learn about the options before you approach your boss about addressing the need to make changes.
5. The JobAccess website has a hotline where people can seek individual advice.
The JobAccess website is choc-full of resources, information and advice about returning to work and managing employment when you have a disability. They have a hotline (1800 464 800) and an online enquiry form where you can seek individual guidance. Check out their tool kits and case studies as well.
A diagnosis of depression or anxiety doesn’t have to mean the end of your career. It can in fact open doors to helping you create a work environment that will support you more appropriately and where you can feel some real job satisfaction.
All the material published here is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute professional advice, including legal advice, for any particular purpose. Always seek individualised professional advice before making any decisions.