Disabling accommodation barriers: A study exploring how to better accommodate government employees with anxiety disorders.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Accommodating mental health in the workplace is challenging. Despite policy efforts to encourage the availability of mental health accommodations in the workplace, employees experiencing mental illness are missing out on accommodations that they need. OBJECTIVE To inform vocational rehabilitation professionals and managers in the public service of best practice accommodations for government employees with anxiety disorders. METHODS Thematic analysis was applied to data collected from the online Accommodating Government Employees with Anxiety Disorders Survey undertaken by 71 Australian public service employees diagnosed with at least one anxiety disorder. RESULTS Our research results include theme and sub-theme representations of accommodations received, accommodations reported as missing, accommodations that study participants felt they couldn't request, along with rejected accommodations. CONCLUSION From the study participants' accounts, three key findings supporting desirable vocational outcomes become apparent. First, that the availability of 'standard' flexible work arrangements, along with personalised accommodations, can assist persons with anxiety disorders (where needed) to reach and retain government positions. Second, the chief barriers reported to making accommodation requests revolve around fears of being stigmatised and penalised. Finally, there is a need for managerial decision-makers to remain open-minded, particularly when assessing requests for accommodations that may break from government norms.

Cite this paper

@article{Mellifont2016DisablingAB, title={Disabling accommodation barriers: A study exploring how to better accommodate government employees with anxiety disorders.}, author={Damian Mellifont and Jennifer L Smith-Merry and Justin Newton Scanlan}, journal={Work}, year={2016}, volume={55 3}, pages={549-564} }