Supporting Employees With Bipolar Disorders

Author: Stan Clark

Mental disorders should not be a reason to limit yourself in the workplace. Yes, there will always be adjustments from your end, but you should also feel safe and supported in your job.

When colleagues learn of your condition, judgments, stigma, and the feeling of being monitored in the office are unavoidable.

As individuals with bipolar disorder, we go through sudden and severe changes in our moods as we experience emotional highs and lows(1).

Employers must protect their employees by providing prevention strategies and accommodating their needs.

Here are some arrangements that employers can offer their employees with bipolar disorder.

 

Accommodations for Employees With Bipolar Disorders(2)

1.   Creating a Psychologically and Socially Healthy Space

We should look for employers who constantly find ways to improve the workplace environment.

Ideally, the management should address these concerns to ensure that the setting in the office is conducive for people with bipolar disorder(3):

  • Is the workplace friendly?
  • Is there high-pressure competition in the workplace?
  • Is there hostility present in the workplace?
  • Do people gossip in the workplace?

2.   Focusing on Physical Health

Our employers should keep in mind that every task affects our physical health. Supervisors should stay observant if an employee with bipolar disorder is doing tedious tasks all day.

Scheduled breaks help improve physical health, so employers should respect employee break times. Physical activities also have a positive impact on the mental health of people with bipolar disorder.

3.   Promoting Open Communication

Employers should reach out to their employees with bipolar disorder to better understand their condition and needs.

We are encouraged to maintain open communication with our employers so we can feel heard, validated, and safe.

4.   Proposing Flexibility

There will be times when we will face certain struggles in productivity, like mood swings and episodes. So, it is best if our employers consider giving us a more relaxed schedule instead of requiring us to finish the job within a rigid time frame.

Try asking your employer if they are willing to offer a schedule that we feel most comfortable with and we can flourish in.

5.   Building Teamwork

Companies that encourage working together for a common goal are good options for us to thrive in a healthy work environment.

Team building activities can help employers identify which people promote compassion and healthy relationships.

6.   Encouraging Treatment

Helpful employers know when an employee is experiencing symptoms.

Employers should learn how to identify if their employee is experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder and be patient until the employee’s condition stabilizes.

Provisions for treatments and other helpful methods can make employees with bipolar disorder feel supported.

 

Creating a Symptom Management Strategy for People With Bipolar Disorder

Setting our expectations on the work environment and the people we’ll be working with is an excellent way to prepare ourselves for work.

Creating a plan to manage your symptoms is recommended to prevent mood episodes in the office.

It is crucial to understand that there will be triggers in the workplace. Here are some strategies that you can use to help manage your symptoms(4):

  • Have your therapist in speed dial
  • Make a mood journal
  • Take your medications
  • Develop a healthy sleep routine
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise daily

People with bipolar disorder have unique ways of managing their symptoms. What matters is that these strategies are geared towards reducing stress and promoting stable moods.

 

References

  1. The Mayo Clinic, (n.d.), Bipolar Disorder, retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355955
  2. Bell, T., (March 2021), Supporting Employees with Bipolar Disorder, retrieved from https://www.columbusrecoverycenter.com/blog/supporting-employees-with-bipolar-disorder/
  3. Ibid.
  4. From the Internet: Epic.org, (n.d.) Employment services for people with bipolar disorder, retrieved from https://epicassist.org/jobseekers/get-started/job-tips-bipolar-disorder/
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