Suffering mental health issues and employment
Suffering in silence
How many people I wonder are suffering mental health issues in the workplace in silence, afraid of sharing their illness with even their closest colleagues let alone their employers. Even more disturbing, how many of these same individuals have felt they have had to lie on their original application, afraid they may not be offered an interview, regardless of their suitability,qualifications and prior experience in their chosen field if they disclose periodic ill mental health.
It is a shocking fact that in this day and age, mental health issues still carry so much stigma.The individuals who suffer, often on a daily basis, have the added pressures of desperately trying to be "someone else" in order to fit in and feel accepted, thus often exacerbating their problems. If this is not bad enough, then imagine applying for a new job knowing that somewhere on that dreaded application is going to be the question. 'Do you or have you ever suffered from mental health issues?" The impact of this simple question can be devastating on the individual creating so much inner turmoil that they're often left wondering what's the point anyway. That we all as a society contribute to people feeling this way is in my opinion, far beyond shameful.
Should I tell the truth?
We all need to work. It would be so easy for mental health sufferers to just surrender to their illness and start to rely on The State or others to provide for them, often justifiably feeling that no-one will understand, and asking themselves how they will explain their illness without the risk of prejudice.Of course there are times when the severity of some problems often means that unfortunately some individuals have no choice. But what about the people who do have choice, and need to work, have financial commitments and also need the routine of work for some mental stability? Why should they have to ask themselves "what shall I do? should I tell the truth?" when faced with questions around mental health.Sadly, this is the exact scenario many individuals find themselves in.
Poor mental health in the UK affects 1 in 4 and affects individuals in different ways and in varying degrees. Statistics show that anxiety and depression are the most common disorders with almost 9% of people being diagnosed. Self harm statistics in Britain are the highest in Europe. This in reality is quite shocking, yet we still force silence on those affected, by our attitudes and actions instead of educating ourselves on the facts.
So what about employment. We are all aware of so called changing attitudes of society and in recent years updated legislation covering equality and diversity in the workplace. However, I often wonder if employers really do have the integrity to realistically look into mental health issues and question their own attitudes before making negative assumptions about an individuals performance in the workplace after discovering the applicant has at some time in their life had issues around mental health.It is ironic that these very applicants can turn out to be the most productive and respected employees in a company, simply because of the very nature of their suffering. They often possess many of the personal attributes needed to work sympathetically with others, yet find they are so often judged or worse not even considered by many employers. And, what if a sufferer needs some time off while in employment. Many are faced with the guilt of letting others down,not feeling they can be honest about their reasons for needing this time, fearing they'll loose their job if they are and therefore finding themselves lying about their illness. In their minds,'saying anything will be better than revealing the truth' How awful this must be!
Attitudes need to change.Having employment is important and almost always necessary for most people. Mental health sufferers are no different and should not be burdened by the ignorance of others both in and outside the workplace. As with many perceived taboo topics education is key. No-one in this day and age has an excuse for not educating themselves on facts, and allowing those facts to change their prejudices into positive attitudes and actions towards others who may suffer from poor mental health.
mental health in the workplace/ A forum discussing the main issues
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