Human Resources Training, Mental Health

Understanding the Law and Psychology of Mental Health


One of the major challenges for an organization is in remaining within the ambit of the law while dealing with its employees’ silent or invisible disorders -the nonphysical disorders, or mental disorders and disabilities.

Dealing with employees with mental disorders is akin to dealing with asymptomatic diseases. Ailments that are more obvious are easier to recognize and treat, but that is not always the case. Imagine if an employee has a mental disorder that manifests itself intermittently. During particular bouts, the employee could exhibit violent behavior, but once the spell is gone, that employee could be like everyone else.

What does the law say?

Balancing the diverse worlds of law and the psychology of mental health is a huge challenge for organizations. There are currently two pieces of legislation concerning disabilities at the workplace to whose provisions all employers have to be compliant with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

  1. The ADA requires that employers should reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities. Some of the concessions for such employees could include flexible working hours, allotment of a job that is more suited to their condition, and allowing time off for or arranging for therapy. It also has a set of detailed instructions on how to make the workplace more hospitable for people with mental disabilities.
  2. The 12-week unpaid leave to which an employee is entitled for serious medical conditions under the FMLA includes mental disorders.
  3. Both legislations require that employers strictly keep all medical and employment records of such employees confidential. Declarations should only be made to the concerned authorities.

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