Top 6 reasons why professionals don't seek help for mental health and neurodivergence
Accommodations play a critical role in building an accessible, inclusive work environment for all – whether it’s adjustments to the work environment or setting up communications and processes to meet unique needs. And yet, we know that the modern workplace is not designed to support people with disabilities.
While some employers are leading the way in building large-scale accommodation & inclusion programs, most employers don’t have a dedicated team to work with their employees with mental health and neurodivergence. The truth is that, in 99% of cases, the person with a disability carries the burden to advocate for themselves, which can be exhausting and frustrating.
There are many reasons why people with disabilities don’t seek accommodations – and in many cases, it can be simply that they don’t even realize they qualify – here are the most common reasons why professionals with ADHD, depression, anxiety, autism, and more don't seek the help & support they're entitled to:
#1 Your company doesn’t have a dedicated accommodation team or process
If you have an ADA-qualifying condition, many professionals are told to speak with their HR contact or manager. Oftentimes, these individuals are less familiar with accommodations, especially what protections are available for neurodivergence or mental health. They may have never handled an accommodation request before and may not know what to do with your request.
#2 You’ve never disclosed your diagnosis at work before and you're scared of what will happen
Ironically, the better you are at coping on your own, the harder it is to seek out and access support. Asking for help or revealing your condition can be a vulnerable and scary place for most people. You might worry about stigma or if asking for accommodations will reflect poorly on you. You might be wondering:
Who will be told about my diagnosis?
Will my manager look differently at me or think I’m less capable?
What’s the benefit of disclosing at all?
Will future employers know that I have a disability?
#3 You’ve already had a bad experience
You were referred to a third-party accommodation provider and were given 30 pages of confusing paperwork to fill out. The accommodations person you talked to was ableist, used outdated language, or treated you as if you were looking for a handout. Ugh.
#4 You don’t know what you need
You ask your employer, “What have you seen other employees in similar situations ask for? What’s considered reasonable?” and they respond, “We don’t help you brainstorm ideas, YOU have to tell US what you need.” Most people don’t recognize what they need right off the bat. They just know that they’re struggling and need SOMETHING but they don’t know what. They get frustrated when their accommodation specialist doesn’t help them brainstorm ideas.
#5 The paperwork is overwhelming
Administrative tasks, like filling out paperwork, may already feel overwhelming for you. Maybe you didn’t understand the paperwork, or you didn’t describe your challenges in the ‘right’ way so it was denied. Maybe you missed the deadline to turn in your paperwork and decided to give up. In a worst-case scenario, maybe you applied for an accommodation and it was mis-filed as a leave request, and you can’t go back to work until it gets figured out.
#6 Your doctor or therapist wasn’t helpful
You asked your therapist for help with the paperwork, and they said, “I don’t know how to fill out that paperwork. Ask your general practitioner,” who then said the same thing. Your medical provider doesn’t understand the demands of your role so they offer unhelpful advice like, “Try asking for extra time to complete your projects” or “Have you tried asking for a reduced workload?”
The Good News: There's still hope!
While these barriers can make it even more difficult and overwhelming, workplaces are increasingly recognizing the need to address mental health in the workplace. There are also tools available to help you learn how to be advocate for yourself and your needs.
Recognizing that you qualify for accommodations is the first step - many people don't even realize this part!
Next, consider what you need by exploring accommodation ideas. You can also schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me here to brainstorm ideas.
Then, learn about your company's accommodation process. You can ask your HR contact for more information about the process and ask how your private medical information will be protected before initiating a request.
Don't let these barriers deter you from advocating for the right support!
Interested in strengthening your executive functioning skills or in learning how you can advocate for yourself at work? Let’s chat.