March 22nd, 2023 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM Mountain Time
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Hillary Hase 
Utah State University 


Webinar: The Elephant in Room: A Discussion about Employees with Psychiatric Disabilities in the Work Place


Webinar Description

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 20% of American adults experience some form of mental illness (or psychiatric disability) on a yearly basis. Across the population, 5% of American adults live with a serious mental health condition such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder or long-term recurring major depression. (Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness - Living With A Mental Health Condition [link: nami.org/Find-Support/Living-with-a-Mental-Health-Condition]). For many individuals with psychiatric disabilities, work is key to their health and contributes to a sense of purpose and well-being. Thus, it is important that employers understand how to foster a mental health-friendly work culture. (Source: Office of Disability Employment Policy - Mental Health [link: dol.gov/odep/topics/Mental_Health.htm]) Unfortunately, due to media reports and lack of understanding, there is also a stigma attached to disclosing a psychiatric disability in the work place.

Supported employment professionals have an important role to play in educating employees with psychiatric disabilities about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), talking to employers, and bridging the gap between the employee and employer. We must prepare and learn how and when to disclose a disability, the pros and cons to disclosing, how to request reasonable accommodations on the job, the role of the supported employment professional in disclosure, and the responsibilities of the employee and employer under the ADA.

Ms. Williamson will also share her own story as a person who has a psychiatric disability and discuss how she learned to deal with the "elephant in the room."



Pam Williamson – Brief Bio

Pam Williamson serves as the Assistant Director of the Southeast ADA Center, a project of the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University. The Southeast ADA Center is a member of the ADA National Network and is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, a Center within the Administration for Community Living located in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Ms. Williamson has expertise on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), supported employment, including disability as part of diversity in the workplace, building effective grassroots networks, special education services, and aging populations.

Ms. Williamson contributed to the development and implementation of four online courses: Foundations of the Americans with Disabilities, Act, ADA Basic Building Blocks, At Your Service: Welcoming Customers with Disabilities, and the ADA Title II Tutorial. She also co-authored the curricula, Serving Customers with Disabilities in Air Travel and the ADA and Self-Advocacy for Youth - Train-the-Trainer Curriculum: An Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Roadmap, and the publication, The ADA and Face Mask Policies.

Ms. Williamson is a person with a psychiatric and neurological disability. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Therapeutic Recreation from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia.




The Center for Employment and Inclusion is a project at the Institute for Disabiltiy Research, Policy, and Practice at Utah State University.