Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Work Accomadations for Anxiety
Hello Dr. Borkosky,
Here is a little bit about my situation.
I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder 2 years ago.
Then a year ago I was also diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I had an IEP in school because I struggled with time. I could not complete tests and assignments in the time period typically given. I am trying to go back to college now and just got my Psychological testing done so I can get the time accommodations I need for school. They also had a portion of the test for questions about my anxiety. Unfortunately I have to wait another two an a half weeks for my feedback session which I feel is going to kill me with worry.
I work as a deli clerk in a grocery store. As you can imagine having S.A.D and working in retail is incredibly difficult. It is beginning to be unbearable for me. After my testing session I got to thinking about work. I did some research and found out that accommodations (based on the ADA) should be able to be provided for me at work if need be. I'm not quite sure how to go about this. I am going to ask my physiologist at my feedback session. I guess I am hoping you can provide me some peace of mind. I do not want to go about this the wrong way. I have had my job for a year an a half. I do not want my managers to take this the wrong way like I am trying to get special treatment, stir up trouble, or be lazy and get away with it. Its not like that at all. Its just my anxiety is becoming very difficult to deal with at work. I had a 10 hour shift yesterday and I thought I was going to loose my mind with worry. It was one of the busiest days of the week and being around people for that long is really tough for me.
Anyway...So my question is do you have any experience with work accommodations for anxiety? If so what kinds of things would be appropriate for someone with anxiety? Is there anything that you know of that I should do before my feedback appointment regarding this? I have some things in mind that would be good accommodations. Such as a longer break or more frequent breaks (to help keep me from getting frustrated), not allowing my employer to give me 10 hour shifts like setting a limit to 8 hours shifts, or even a set schedule so I have more consistent shifts.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. Sorry about the length.
Hi, Courtney, thanks for your question. The answer is a legal one, and can depend on many things, such as the evidence in a case. In general, though, I believe it is the case that workplace accommodations only come into play when the worker has a disability that meets the definitions of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Not all mental disorders meet the definition of a disability. I think social anxiety does not.
Further, the job requirements must be such that accommodations are possible. If the job requirements are such that the disabling condition would prohibit the person from being able to do the job, then they won't be able to do that job. IOW, not all disabled persons can do all jobs.
School differs from jobs in several ways. Schools are run by the government, and the govt has a duty to provide an education for all people. This creates an affirmative right for people, and thus more people are given accommodations, because education is a right.That makes the right to accommodations a lower bar.
Private companies have a higher bar, because they are not part of govt. There is no established right to work. The courts are much more reluctant to force private people to do things.
A better approach might be to work with a psychotherapist to reduce or eliminate your problems.