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Talking about mental health issues in the workplace

The Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition held a discussion on Facebook live Wednesday to get people talking about the anxiety they have about returning to the office.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As more people return to the office, one group wants to make sure people are comfortable talking about the fear, anxiety, and mental health issues that go along with that.

Very similar to what we talked about the other day with the anxiety of the new school year, many adults are also dealing with the reality of returning to the office in the middle of the pandemic. And that brings up many feelings that might be new to us.

Wednesday, the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition hosted a Facebook live to get people comfortable talking about all of these things. A business owner, HR professional, and mental health expert joined the moderator. They said employers need to be clear about what the new policies are, and people need to be openly talking about them.

"Really, it's how would you want to be treated if you were the employee? So, be really transparent about having in place the regular and routine cleaning of high touch surfaces, have in place things like requiring masks, or ensuring that the office has appropriate social distancing office, warehouse, retail shop, whatever kind of business we're talking about that's having its team come back to work on site. And of course, making it okay to go home or to stay home if you're feeling symptoms of illness," said attorney Lisa A. Coppola.

They also want to remind people that they're not alone, we're all in this together dealing with this.

Someone asked if an employer can actually force you to go back to the office.

"Generally speaking, employees can be mandated to come back to the work site, but remember, I said generally," Coppola said. "And, I say it that way because like lots of things around the law, there's no absolutely 100-percent precise clear answer that fits everybody. So, you have to take each circumstance on a case by case basis and what an employer would look at, and an employee would look at, in this situation is does the employee have a disability as Eric mentioned that for which reasonable accommodations might be able to be offered by the employer to allow the employee to work from home."

Friday on Daybreak, Karys Belger will have more about this topic. She is talking with mental health experts about how to cope with the situation we're all dealing with and how to handle the stress.

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