Well being

I wrote the following for my work blog but thought I’d repost here because it’s good info for all:

In the US there are pretty strict privacy (HIPAA) laws regarding health records. In addition, a diagnosis of of clinical mental illness would afford you protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act. So there shouldn’t really be any fear of your manager or the company finding out you are seeking mental health treatment.

I understand there is stigma attached to a mental health diagnosis but until we speak out and advocate otherwise, it will not change. Whatever your condition, whether cancer, clinical depression, diabetes, bipolar disorder, there should be no shame. And there should be no shame in seeking treatment.

I see a psychologist on a regular basis. It took several interviews to find the right therapist. Don’t settle for seeing someone who doesn’t share your values and with whom you don’t make a connection. You have every right to shop around for the health care provider who works for you.

And it shouldn’t be an expensive privilege to seek counseling. It is covered much the same as an office visit to the doctor (co-pay, deductible, etc.). In addition, if you participate in the flexible spending account deduction, you can use that reimbursement for those costs.

I am active in National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI). This resource is a wealth of support and information. They can help you navigate the system if you’re struggling. I co-teach a class called Family-to-Family which educates families with loved ones affected by mental illness. It helped me immensely and I would highly recommend it. No one should feel alone. There are people out there who can help. For those of you in Oregon, the Washington County affiliate is very active and has many programs that you may find helpful.

I have also found the following online resources to be very helpful:

National Institute of Mental Health
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is the largest scientific organization in the world dedicated to research focused on the understanding, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders and the promotion of mental health.

Mental Health Network
Information and tools to help you manage your stress, depression, anxiety and more.

WebMD
MayoClinic

I’ve been dealing with this for a long time and it comes and goes depending on many factors. The past year at my company has had a huge impact on my sense of well being but it’s much easier to manage stress and/or depression with the support of others. You can’t just will it away… it takes positive action!

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3 Responses

  1. Thanks for the tips and advice. I agree with almost everything. I’m not especially confident in the government’s ability to protect anyone from discrimination. There’s still so much ignorance surrounding mental illness, that at the very least, were it to be common knowledge one suffered from some disorder (if that’s the proper term), some people might not take them as seriously as they would otherwise. Still, I tend to think honesty is the best policy. I can see where it’s a tough call for some though.

  2. I understand your point, Prester John. I work in a large company that has HR guidelines. But for those who work in smaller companies, I can see how they may feel differently.

  3. My primary point is that we’ve got a long way to go to overcome the stereotypes. I sincerely appreciate you fighting the good fight on all our behalf.

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