The current federal government shutdown is the longest in U.S. history. Approximately 800,000 federal employees are affected.
These employees are not only missing out on paychecks. Many are still required to work – without pay. And others are feeling immense pressure and stress, as their employment and financial futures are unknown.
Despite missing out on paychecks, federal employees still have financial obligations:
And many federal employees have court-ordered financial obligations such as child support or spousal support.
In fact, some federal employees are now having to spend money on legal fees because they are unable to pay child support, for example. They face the possibility of jail time if their court-ordered financial obligations are not met.
To say this is a stressful situation is a vast understatement.
The financial stressors and uncertainty of the situation can affect employees physically and emotionally. Many federal employees are finding that their mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, are aggravated by the government shutdown. And some are experiencing these effects for the first time.
Additionally, some servicemembers with PTSD are finding the shutdown to be aggravating their conditions.
What many of these employees do not know is that they may have legal options.
What should federal employees do if dealing with stress, anxiety or depression?
First, seek medical attention. Federal employees should consider seeking the help of a clinical psychologist. A psychologist can diagnose a condition and help the employee find effective medical treatment.
If work-related stress is causing or aggravating a mental health condition, the employee may be able to file a work-related stress claim with the Department of Labor.
These cases are extremely complex, so it is advisable for employees to seek help from a federal employment law attorney as soon as possible.
Remember: Work (or lack thereof) should never cause you to become depressed or anxious. Work should never cause you to have panic attacks. If this is happening to you, you may have legal options.
Act quickly: Time is of the essence
If you have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression and it is related to stress related to the government shutdown – or if a pre-existing mental health condition has been aggravated by the shutdown – talk to an attorney who focuses on representing federal employees.