Mental illness a black mark in the workplace
Many people with experience of mental illness choose not to disclose to their employers, and new research sheds a light on why: it’s likely to be a black mark against them.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, having a mental illness is a bigger barrier to employment than physical disability, and it’s chiefly due to a false belief that people with experience of mental illness are “unreliable” and “disruptive” at work:
The research highlighted a widespread negative view of mental illness that did not match reality, said Matthew Lambelle from the not-for-profit employment services provider WISE, which commissioned the report.
He said a lack of understanding caused some people to avoid hiring people with a mental illness.
The study found an assumption that mental illness inhibited job performance. ”In fact the two are not linked,” Mr Lambelle said.
Employers are accustomed to making reasonable accommodations for employees around flexible working hours for reasons such as childcare or study – arranging hours to suit so that you are able to keep a regular psychologist’s appointment, for example, should be no different.
With one in five Australians experiencing mental illness each year, it’s crucial that workplaces provide a supportive environment as well, not just through providing access to EAP programs but in a good, open workplace culture, so that when people feel under stress they can talk to their colleagues and managers about it.