Amazon’s ‘Modern Love’: Do’s and Don’ts When Managing Mental Illness at Work

In Amazon’s ‘Modern Love,’ we’re introduced to Lexi (Anne Hathaway) and get a peek inside her personal life. Lexi struggles with balancing work, dating, and bipolar disorder. One area of her life that was negatively impacted by her diagnosis was her career. In this episode, we learn that Lexi has trouble keeping a job because she’s often absent or late.

What are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to managing mental health in the workplace? Showbiz Cheat Sheet chatted with Jacintha Carson, a licensed professional counselor at Think Happy Live Healthy, LLC, in Falls Church, Virginia. Here’s what Carson shared.

Anne Hathaway, star of Amazon's Modern Love | Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Anne Hathaway, star of Amazon’s Modern Love | Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: Should you tell a new employer you have a mental illness? Why or why not? 

Jacintha Carson:  It really depends on the nature of your job, and how your mental illness may affect your work, but I’m a big believer in being honest about your needs and asking for help when needed. It can be helpful to give your employer a heads up if certain accommodations can help you be successful at work, such as speech-to-text technology to help someone who has ADHD stay on top of emails and writing, or a flexible schedule or even remote work for someone who is suffering from depression and has difficulty getting out of bed early in the morning. Being open and honest about your needs can help you succeed at work and also help your employer and/or team understand your strengths and challenges rather than making assumptions if they notice a change in your behavior.

CS: If you decide to disclose, when is the best time to tell an employer?

JC: When disclosing to a new employer, it would probably be best to wait until after you have a clear offer and you have accepted.

Amazon Modern Love Cast | ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images
Amazon Modern Love Cast | ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

CS: What are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to disclosing a mental illness to an employer?

JC:

Do’s:

  • Be clear about your strengths and how you can benefit the employer in addition to some challenges you may face.
  • Ask for any reasonable accommodations to help you succeed, such as time for a regular therapy appointment, flexible work hours, mentoring (if offered), and having regular meetings with a supervisor to help with any difficulties and for maintaining accountability.
  • Keep communication open between you and your direct supervisor about what is working well or not working. Try not to wait until there is a major problem before asking for help. It’s always to the employer’s benefit to work with a current employee than to spend time and resources finding a replacement.
  • Keep open communication with your human resources department if you feel that you are being unfairly treated or penalized for disclosing mental illness.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t disclose everything about your mental illness if it is not relevant to the work that you are are doing and your relationships at work. Having healthy boundaries between your work and personal life can be an important part of your self-care!
  • Don’t assume that your supervisor knows a lot about your mental illness. If you are disclosing something you may also have to do some educating about how it impacts you and how it may be different than common stereotypes.

CS:  What steps should you take so that your mental illness doesn’t negatively impact your job?

JC: Have a plan of action for what to do if you feel that your mental illness is impacting your work and have a discussion with your supervisor to discuss how you will proactively address any issues that may come up. Also, make sure you are seeking any support necessary to manage your mental illness such as individual and/or group therapy, medication management, and healthy lifestyle habits such as healthy eating, sleep hygiene, an exercise routine, and social outlets outside of work. Always ask for help if you feel like you are struggling! You are not alone!

Read more: Amazon’s ‘Modern Love’: At What Point in a Relationship Should You Reveal Mental Illness?

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