Your rights: Mental Health Disabilities are Protected by the Law

Mental health is often an exceptionally misunderstood subject. From employment relationships to service relationships, the stigma attached to anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and personality disorders often prevents people from being able to receive equal treatment and protection within the context of the above relationships, plus many more. Disabilities often express themselves differently for everyone. Someone with anxiety might have a difficult time communicating, while someone with depression might have a difficult time meeting attendance expectations at work and school. Similarly, some people might express behavioral difficulties as a result of their bipolar disorder which could affect their performance at work or school.   The symptoms, signs, and behaviors  associated with your disability(ies) is not your fault and you should never feel bad  about having anxiety, depression, etc.

The Ontario Human Rights Code [The “Code“] is quasi-provincial human rights legislation which ensures that disabled person(s) are able to receive equal protection and treatment under the law. ‘Quasi-provincial’ means that no other legislation in the province is superior to the Code. In essence, the Code trumps all, including the polices of your workplace.

Most often, people do not understand that “mental health disabilities”  are protected within the meaning of section 10 of the Code. This means that your employer, service provider (i.e., landlord, educational institution, grocery store, etc) cannot discriminate against you when they know that you have a disability , or “perceive” that you have a disability, within the meaning of the s.10 of the Code, unless they have accommodated you to the point of undue hardship.  

If you have anxiety and depression, or some other mental health disability such as post traumatic stress disorder, and this affects your ability to perform adequately at work, or impedes your ability to complete academic assignments on time, speak to your university, college, high school,  or employer about receiving accommodation. They have an obligation to inquire into the nature of your disability so that they can determine how your disability affects your ability to perform. This is critical in ensuring that you receive appropriate accommodation which in turn, ensures that you have the meaningful opportunity to be fully included within the workplace and/or or your academic environment.  If the person responsible for providing accommodation fails to accommodate you to the point of undue hardship, and you suffer adverse consequences as a result, your rights might be violated under the Code and you should seek legal advice from a lawyer or paralegal who practices within human rights law about filing a human rights application.

If you feel like your rights have been violated under the Code, you can contact the Law Society of Upper Canada, Lawyer Referral Service at 1-800-268-8326 or you can visit them on the web at http://www.lsuc.on.ca/lsrs/. You’ll receive a “code” which will entitle you to a 30 minute free consultation with a lawyer or paralegal who practices within the area of law you need assistance with.  (Yay for access to justice!)

Alternatively, you can contact the Human Rights Legal Support Center at 1-866-625-5179 or you can visit them on the web at http://www.hrlsc.on.ca/

 

*This post should not be construed as legal advice, but rather, information about your rights under the Ontario Human Rights Code. For more information about your rights, you should visit the Ontario Human Rights Commission for some great publications! 🙂 http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en

 

 

 

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Restraint and Control – Anger in Addition to Depression and Anxiety

A side effect of depression and anxiety is irritability. By side effect, I mean a very common occurrence for many suffering with either. As someone with both, I struggle to control myself with it in all situations. I get overwhelmed extremely easily. At work, I get frustrated and angry at the drop of a hat with things as simple as hangers. I look at myself in the mirror when I’m home alone, screaming at small things that have me worked up and think “What is wrong with me?” But I know what’s wrong.

I often feel like I have little control over my emotions. My partner will be the first one to tell you he finds my intense frustration at inanimate objects highly annoying. We could be in the middle of a grocery store, I could go to pull a box of cereal off the shelf and bring two with it, and I would have to grit my teeth to prevent myself from screaming or throwing something. Believe me, it’s not something I’m proud of. My mother has been one of the few who has seen how angry I can get. She used to tell me as a kid she wanted to put me in anger management because I would blow up at her, my brother, my step-father quite often. As I got older, I learned to quell the rage surges by not saying anything, breathing a little, and trying to rationally think. However, it’s not as easy as some may think.

I believe a lot of my pent up anger is due to a lot of my issues from childhood. I suffered from bullying at school, familial and relationship abuse, and emotional neglect from my parents. I won’t go into details as I am private regarding those times, but I attribute my current mental state to those times. I can’t blame it all on that, as I have come to terms and resolved many issues from that time. But why I am so angry still? Because I still deal with depression and anxiety everyday? Because I don’t sleep enough? Because I’m frustrated with other aspects of my life? Maybe it’s a combination of the three.

In reflection over the past couple of months of life, I often worry people will hear me groaning, whining, or growling under my breath at work or in public. I’m really not proud of how easily I am frustrated, to the point I worry about snapping at the people I cared about the most. The other week, I was having a particularly bad week at work and I felt I snapped at my supervisor (she felt I really hadn’t snapped at all, I was frustrated with myself and having a panic attack that day as well). But my self control has improved considerably since starting at my retail job. I enjoy my job enough to not feel the urge to pull my hair out, but it has its downfalls just like any other job. Though I work with a great team, so I don’t *always* feel like I’ll lose my mind at work.

In retrospect, I feel like I still have quite a bit of work to do with trying to internalize my frustrations and anger. On my birthday last week, I literally felt my self control devolving after spending 3 hours in the heat and public, but I kept it mostly to myself. I hope if you take anything away from this, it’s that frustration and anger come and go, but to hold your tongue when the situation is most pressing, and to remember that things are not as bad as they feel. I hope I continuing improving my ability to keep calm and reduce my anger further.

Good luck and much love.