‘Disability’ may expand under new criteria (Guest commentary)

Changes to diagnostic guidelines could see more people qualifying for mental condition
By Michael Duffy
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/13/2012

Most employers are familiar with their obligation to accommodate employees with a disability. With addictions, depression and other forms of mental illness recognized as protected forms of disability, many employers have policies to make sure employees suffering from mental illness are treated with dignity.

But these policies could require amendments as changes to the way health-care professionals identify and classify mental health symptoms might affect how courts and tribunals categorize “disability” in the context of mental health.

Currently in its fourth iteration, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), assists health-care professionals with diagnoses. The manual lists a variety of symptoms for every category of mental condition and recommends a diagnosis.