Mental health in the work place? Taboo? Or truth?

Mental health: it’s just as important to maintain as our physical health. So why is it that we’re still terrified to tick the ‘disability’ box on a job application? 

Would you tell your soon-to-be employer that you suffer from a mental illness that may affect your work? Or would you just hide? Hide behind that mask you’ve been wearing for so many years. 

Yes, to be or not to be? That is, indeed, the question.

I recently told my new employer that I would be absent one day this month to partake in medical research. A research intended for past sufferers of depression. That’s right, I’ve donated myself to science. I’ve become an official human guinea pig. And what for? To pay rent, obviously :/ 

Anyway, long story short; I didn’t think about the stigma, I just spat the words out as if we were talking about how my weekend was. Then there was a spark of tension, as if to say, “oh gosh, I’m sorry to hear that you… Er.. You?”. But to be honest, it felt liberating to say that I had suffered. And I now have a summer job- result!

So why is mental health discriminated in the work place so much?

I can only think of a few reasons why. The first being, ’cause I’m mental’. 

As soon as you mention the D word, I’m avoided like a homeless person begging for sympathy. And that’s exactly it, I don’t want sympathy. I want compassion. I want people to understand it’s nothing out of the ordinary. We’re not psychopaths plotting to fly a plane into the Bermuda Triangle, we’re normal people who have much a right to work as everyone else.

People think that having a mental health condition affects your ability to work. Obviously this is true to a certain degree, but what affects us the most is being discriminated against.

But…

What is the cure for aiding this god-ridden taboo of a subject? Personally, I believe telling people in a way they can understand. Throw in a joke (just so they think we are ‘normal’) and smile like you mean it. Amen. 

5 thoughts on “Mental health in the work place? Taboo? Or truth?

  1. Well done on saying it! It’s definitely not easy at first, especially at work, but it’s also very liberating, isn’t it? Because once it’s said, we no longer fear that we would one day drop a hint in a conversation. It’s out there… And then we can focus on getting better and helping people around us. 🙂 Take care.

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  2. The stigma attached to mental health has such a powerful effect. People are so afraid to open up because so many aren’t educated enough to understand. Like you said, you mention depression and they think that you’ll be unable to work, breaking down in a cubical, or worse. The truth is everyone has some trait that “effects their work”. It could be anger, abuse problems outside work, power struggles, physical health issues or so much more. But mental illness will also be the one that creates tension because it’s not talked about. So thank you for writing this. As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, I can relate. Hopefully one day these things will be easier to talk about.

    I run a blog on mental illness called “Dear Hope”, join the community here: wemustbebroken.com

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  3. My mental illnesses took me out of the workforce and into disability. Nine years later, I added a disease which is slowly eroding my performance – MS. But I agree with you. If a person with a mental illness is able to work, why should they? Why do you have to tell them?? Do you tell them if you are Jewish or Catholic?? Do you tell them if you’ve had surgery on your knee?? The answer to all these questions is a resounding NO!

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  4. The thing is this, 99% of people are dysfunctional and the other 1% you really gotta worry about.

    So hello from the 1 percentile!

    Being serious it’s stigma and ignorance. I’m S.A.D. myself, seasonal affective disorder. It is not pleasant and people around me are aware I have it and know I can have off days. I know it too and understand why I’m having that off day.

    Those are called coping skills and those with it and those around it avoid rather than try to find a way to cope.

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