Hidden Disabilities in the Workplace
The 3rd of December is recognised internationally as the Day of People with Disabilities. Whilst it is easy to spot someone with physical disabilities, it is estimated 70% of all disabilities in the UK are ‘hidden’. Examples of hidden disabilities include mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, physical conditions like Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia and diabetes and neurodiverse conditions, such as those that fall on the autistic spectrum.
Hidden disabilities can have a significant impact on people’s working lives, which can make it difficult for them to reach their full potential so we asked mental health training provider, Three Eggs, for their advice on how to support members of your team with their hidden disabilities.
They said, “Small adjustments can make a huge difference to the working day and recognise the challenges individuals may face. Supporting everyone in the team improves team dynamics, increasing productivity, morale and engagement with the workplace – all attributes contributing to the success of the business.”
Here are Three Egg’s top tips for helping those with hidden disabilities:
Work hard to create an open culture where people’s differences are respected and diversity is celebrated – provide regular email bulletins about workplace wellbeing, include wellbeing in 1-2-1s for everyone, educate teams about diversity and inclusion.
]Senior leaders can play a really important role in sharing their own experiences of managing their wellbeing at work, which lets everyone know ‘it’s ok to talk about this here’.
Ask people how they are and if there’s anything they’re struggling with – and then ask if there’s anything the business can do to support them. People will naturally be afraid to ask for help for fear of being seen as a nuisance; making an adjustment for someone can make a huge difference to their contribution to the workplace.
Educate everyone about hidden disabilities – provide examples, explain why some people may find certain activities more difficult than others, or why certain conditions mean people are ok one day but struggle the next. Removing ignorance can go a long way to making people feel part of the team.
As a Mental Health First Aider, I know the real value of supporting teams with both their physical and mental wellbeing. Please do get in touch if you are concerned about an individual in your team.
Additionally, if you would like to know more about hidden disabilities in the workplace, listen to Three Eggs Head of Learning Louise Newby discussing this issue in an episode of the Divercity podcast
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