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Stigma And Employment

Stigma and Employment  

243 members have voted

  1. 1. When would you tell an employer about your mental illness?

    • In a job application or interview.
      14
    • Once you are hired.
      2
    • After working there for a while.
      91
    • Never.
      136
  2. 2. When would you tell your co-workers (or classmates) about your mental illness?

    • When I first meet them.
      0
    • I would tell most after knowing them a while.
      5
    • I would only tell some after knowing them a while.
      26
    • I would only tell those I become close friends with.
      112
    • I would only tell if someone told me the same about their own mental illness.
      47
    • Never.
      53
  3. 3. Have you ever been fired, or passed over for a job or promotion because of your mental illness?

    • Yes.
      37
    • No.
      125
    • I suspect so, but don't know for sure.
      81


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I would under no circumstances tell an employer or a new friend...unless I felt the need to explain away an awkward situation after the fact. I think most of the time though people would never guess it about me - so why bring it to someone's attention - people judge - that's just life.

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i went through 7 episodes of major depression. two were untreated, and 7th is the one i'm having right now.

all of the 5 episodes made me stop functioning, requiring me to stay home.

i only told my employer once, in the fragility of my state, and the reaction was bad. they accepted me back, but taken away my bonuses and wanted to hand me over to another department.

luckily i've found much better job so i resigned.

i would never do the mistake again. i rather tell my manager a made up condition that going through hell when coming back to work. in my country and in my job, employer has no right to know why i wasn't able to work, or see my medical or health insurance records.

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I'm looking for a job but one thing always bothers me... should I tell a potential employer about my depression? Some companies will give accommodations to those with "disabilities" including mental illness and profess to be equal opportunity employers, but I worry that if they knew about my depression up front that they may not hire me.

I'm wondering if other people feel the need to hide their mood disorders from employers (current or potential) as well as co-workers due to fear of being discriminated against because of stigma.

Also, I have some fairly big gaps in my resume from times I was too depressed to go to school or work. If I don't tell potential employers the "real" reason for these gaps, what should I say?

Never again!!

NO NO NO.

I lost 2 jobs because I was honest.

At first, the employers seemed understanding and told me they will not fire me because of this, I am such a great employee... but when it was time to let someone go, they chose me, over people whose annual reviews were much worse than mine!!

and it was obvious why it was me...

About gaps - lie!

Tell them you were abroad, did volantary work, whatever.

Sorry, I am not encouraging lying, but let's be honest, most employers will not hire someone who is mentally unstable! They will consider the possibility that in a month or two he won't come to work because he's depressed...or because he's developed a depressive episode and needs time off.

Edited by Achelois

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I'm in graduate school and I told my advisor after a while. I told him because something came up where another student had severe depression, and it just sort of came out naturally in the conversation that I myself was on antidepressants. He was very understanding and cool with it.

I think, being in academia, it's kind of okay to be more open about it. Not sure I would disclose in a regular corporate job though.

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i've disclosed in the past, when i needed more than a month off for a serious episode, and got fired for mysterious reasons, despite having excellent job reviews.

now my policy is not to tell...

however, i'm in the position now where i do need accommodations. what do i do? i need to figure it out in light of all i know about how employers treat people with disabilities.

it's hard to employ people with MI, i know that. however, we're sometimes the most creative and hardworking people there are! they should look at us differently- as assets and not a burden.

Music to my ears, loonatik. Thank you for your comment.

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I started a job in October 2008. At the time I had been well for about 4 years. I was promoted after 3 months at this job. A month in to my promotion my depression resurfaced. I took some time off on sick leave and was very open about my condition. About 3 weeks into my sick leave I received a letter from them firing me from my position stating my illness as the reason.

I made a claim for unfair dismissal, it was settled out of court as I was not well enough to fight a lengthy court battle. I did not get a lot of money but it was mainly the principle I was concerned with. By settling they of course do not admit guilt, but I am glad I did something about it and to get even a penny out of them was enough.

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I'm looking for a job but one thing always bothers me... should I tell a potential employer about my depression? Some companies will give accommodations to those with "disabilities" including mental illness and profess to be equal opportunity employers, but I worry that if they knew about my depression up front that they may not hire me.

I'm wondering if other people feel the need to hide their mood disorders from employers (current or potential) as well as co-workers due to fear of being discriminated against because of stigma.

Also, I have some fairly big gaps in my resume from times I was too depressed to go to school or work. If I don't tell potential employers the "real" reason for these gaps, what should I say?

God no!

I lost 2 jobs this way.

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Maybe if I'd been there a long time and trusted the people...I've been turned down for a job before because of my history of depression, the company said I wouldn't be able to deal with the stress of the job. That really made me mad, how would they know what I'm capable of without knowing me?

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This is something playing on my mind, Im off for the second time in 2 years with depression/stress, a lot of which I know was casued by my job and lack of support to actually do it. The company stress management policy appears to be 'just keep smiling', which I'm sure readers will agree is a patronising, upsetting and insulting attitude. I have to have a meeting about reorganising my current supervisory role and 'discuss alternatives'. I have already said I want to talk to the head of HR about my issues but I dont know what will happen after that. It cannot keep being swept under the carpet, stress is endemic in the company I work for but the top brass have their heads in a bucket of sand over it I fear. There is a 'cant take the heat....get out of the kitchen' feel about their approach.

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Just seems like a bad idea to ever expose the information. Once it is out there you can not real it back. It could even spill into the next job, if the industry you're in is small.

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I'm looking for a job but one thing always bothers me... should I tell a potential employer about my depression? Some companies will give accommodations to those with "disabilities" including mental illness and profess to be equal opportunity employers, but I worry that if they knew about my depression up front that they may not hire me.

I'm wondering if other people feel the need to hide their mood disorders from employers (current or potential) as well as co-workers due to fear of being discriminated against because of stigma.

Also, I have some fairly big gaps in my resume from times I was too depressed to go to school or work. If I don't tell potential employers the "real" reason for these gaps, what should I say?

Don't judge me but from my personal experience I find that it's better to protect myself with a white lie rather than tell the truth. All the other times I've come clean 100% I was met with ignorance, prejudice, frustration, indifference, pain and (worse of all) pity and disgust. So I've concluded that since the current culture is not understanding of this illness (unfortunately this is the case, but hopefully things change in the future!), protecting myself takes higher priority.

For example if I were really depressed and can't get out of bed, I'd tell my employer that I'm really under the weather which is true. Or I'd say that I'm really ill today. If they ask for more info I'd say, "It's really personal and embarrassing, I'd rather not talk about it" I've also told people that "I have a really bad cold/flu/headache." It's true. Depression is like brain flu, on really bad days my brain is clogged up with snot and I can't think clearly much less work.

As for big gaps in resume some suggestions:

  • List a personal project on there (ie. I was working on a novel, building my own business, painting, etc.).
  • Say that you were battling and recovering from a life threatening illness (depression). It's the truth, and you don't have to disclose what the illness was. Let them think it was cancer or some other disease, your depression is not their business.
  • Pad the year of the two jobs you had from before and after the gap. If the gap was more than 5 years ago who cared if you worked at the cafe for 1 year instead of 3. Plus everyone who worked at the cafe are probably not even there anymore.

I know telling white lies or not telling the whole truth might not sit right with some people on this forum but for me, until things change and employers are more understanding, I've learned it's more important to protect myself.

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I did not tell 2 employers about my 12 Steppers program. And I did not claim insurance coverage for visits to a psychologist. I did let insurance pay for my Zoloft some years later because it was so expensive then, and my physician was very insistent I needed to do something about my steady deterioration.

This thread is quite moving to read. I think I did the right thing about not telling.

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There are several things going on with me which require me to go through an organization which helps people with disabilities get placed in jobs. So an employer knows right away something is up even when they don't know exactly what's going on. I had one job placement last year and it was horrid. The job setting was all wrong and the afternoon supervisor was a royal @#$#%. I lasted a whole 3 days working only 3 hours/day. My only other option right now is to work with an at home phone-based company which only employs people with disabilities. One of the issues with them is they are geared more towards people with physical disabilities. I look normal, talk normal, walk normal.... but my brain isn't "normal". I need more accommodations than employers can reasonably provide. It's been over 2 years since I've been able to work. I have applied for SSDI and have my hearing on March 14th.

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It's really interesting to read everyone's stories. I personally have been really lucky with my employers. I never bring it up with my boss until I am forced to take time off sick and I know that I am not functioning properly at work. But under those circumstances I've always been honest about the problem. So far that has been one boss, my PhD supervisors and now my current boss. The first boss I told admitted to me that he also suffered from depression and was understandably very supportive. My PhD supervisors accepted it but mostly didn't know what to do about it. But they were grateful that I was honest with them. My current boss I only told a couple of weeks ago after I was really struggling with work and was forced to take some time off. I have yet to see how things pan out this time but I feel happier that they know there is a medical issue rather than it just being that I'm a moody, emotional or incompetent person.

As for telling colleagues I'm a bit more reticent. Friends I'm honest with but I generally go for something vague with colleagues about a longterm illness or if I've only been off for a few days just mention some of the symptoms I've had without talking about depression - problems sleeping, lack of appetite, lethargy that sort of thing. I don't lie and if it comes out at some point so be it but I prefer not to advertise the fact either.

Good luck to everyone looking for jobs at the minute and to those of you who are trying to cope with depression and hold down a full-time job. I wish you all the best.

Edited by KJS

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Another complication with the job situation for me, was that at one of my employers the director of the department had some serious issues of his own. (undiagnosed and untreated)

In the 18 month period I worked there, he went through 15 secretaries. (I am not making this up) The office staff started having a betting pool on how long the new hires would last. The usual method for a secretary to end her employment was to run from the office, crying, and to send her husband back to pick up the personal belongings from her desk.

Fortunately, that guy remains for me a unique experience. I have never encountered anyone else as self-centered, demanding, driven, and as indifferent to the suffering of his fellow human beings as him.

Even though I was manic depressive and pretty close to an end stage alcoholic during my work there, I do take some satisfaction (now) in surviving in that stink hole for 18 months.

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I'm looking for a job but one thing always bothers me... should I tell a potential employer about my depression? Some companies will give accommodations to those with "disabilities" including mental illness and profess to be equal opportunity employers, but I worry that if they knew about my depression up front that they may not hire me.

I'm wondering if other people feel the need to hide their mood disorders from employers (current or potential) as well as co-workers due to fear of being discriminated against because of stigma.

Also, I have some fairly big gaps in my resume from times I was too depressed to go to school or work. If I don't tell potential employers the "real" reason for these gaps, what should I say?

Lie!

Do NOT tell at work unless you MUST.

I lost 2 jobs thanks to my honesty.

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By the way if you live in the USofA we are having an economic crisis so if you are working at all you are a lucky person! Give yourself a break. It is hard working when you don't feel good.As for big gaps in resume some suggestions: HAHA I love this quoted from above...

* List a personal project on there (ie. I was working on a novel, building my own business, painting, etc.).

* Say that you were battling and recovering from a life threatening illness (depression). It's the truth, and you don't have to disclose what the illness was. Let them think it was cancer or some other disease, your depression is not their business.

* Pad the year of the two jobs you had from before and after the gap. If the gap was more than 5 years ago who cared if you worked at the cafe for 1 year instead of 3. Plus everyone who worked at the cafe are probably not even there anymore.

I know telling white lies or not telling the whole truth might not sit right with some people on this forum but for me, until things change and employers are more understanding, I've learned it's more important to protect myself.

Yes indeed cause you gotta TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FIRST to be healthy enough to work.

If I might add what would you say if a coworker or supervisor caught you coming out of the bathroom with red eyes and puffiness from crying??? How many times can you say oh I'm just not feeling well???

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i told my boss about my depression when it started to affect my work, that way she knew that it wasnt just that i am crap at my job but that i do have a problem and she understood :hearts:

I was like you i told my boss about my stress, anxiety and depression once it became really necessary. The bullying at work meant that i was not eating, sleeping and work performance was suffering. Then one day i cracked came home from work and wrote everything down about what was happening. Now i am waiting on the HR dept coming up with a proposals to help me return to work soon. I told my workmates i had mental health issues but got no support and just riddicule so in future i would not tell anyone but senior management :boredsmiley: .

Computergeak2011

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I can't say that I see a benefit in telling them?

It seems like if you tell them, it'll just be seen as an "excuse." It's one thing for someone to come in late from a chemo treatment for cancer,.. but it doesn't seem like people are as sympathetic about mental health issues.

I wouldn't want to tell and jeopardize my reputation or have them start blaming everything on mental health issues.

With that said, maybe some small businesses or close relationships at work might benefit from knowing. I mean, if you have ADD, a boss might find knowing that useful if the boss can relocate your desk and make you more productive.

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I have told my employer about my mental illness. I have a good paying, stressful, demanding career. It's very important to me to protect my position and income. I had to tell the employers. If I had kept my disability a secret and they fired me for absences or job issues related to my mental illness, I would have no recourse in any court because I didn't disclose my illness to them. If I didn't tell them they would think I was just lazy, a bad worker, didn't care about my job, etc. So, I told them. I was told by my doctor that I didn't have to disclose anything to them, but I felt I had to so my position and career would be protected. I had the doctor write out a simple letter stating what exactly I am diagnosed with.

I'm glad I did.

The employers started to come down on me just this week about absences. Not weeks, but 10 instances over a year. They told me I was being 'watched' now, and wasn't allowed to miss more than 2.5 days in the next 3 months. I reminded them of my mental illness, and asked them for accomodation. I told them they can't discriminate against my absences because they are all valid and due to me managing my mental illness. I told them I was doing the best I can to manage, with my doctors help, and that I love my job. What can they do? Yes, they can fire me, but I am entitled to employment insurance for wrongful dismal then, and I can take them to the Human Rights Tribunal (Canada) for discrimination based on my mental disability. If I have to quit because they won't accomodate me by being understanding about my absences, then I am still entitled to employment insurance, because I quit a vapid employment situation where they constructively dismissed me over time because of my mental illness. I've tried to cover my butt. My employers say they care, but their actions prove otherwise. I'm sure I'd be fired for those absences by now if it weren't for the fact that I disclosed my disability to them. The only thing saving me is that I do have proof that I have a mental illness, and I gave it to them.

I say be smart, do some research on your rights, and tell the employer if it will save your job. Keep it a secret if you think it'll jeapradize it. Don't, never, ever, NEVER tell a potential employer about any mental illness. Lie. Do not tell them. Also, cover any gaps on your resume/CV with lies. Stretch the truth of other jobs. Fill the time in with volunteer work, looking after an ailing family member, or training for something. Don't tell them it was for your mental illness. They won't hire you. If they did, then it's a dream job and I want to know where it is.... I will apply! lol

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I have had both good and bad experiences with this.

In my first job telling was a very bad decision. I was honest, and things did not turn out OK. I stayed and I worked and they liked me and liked how I did things, but they made me feel like crap for being me.

In the second job, only the boss knew and later two co-workers and it worked out OK. It was a great job, I loved it, and it went very, very well.

In my current job, the boss knows and that's the only one who knows, and it is going absolutely wonderful and I love it.

It depends on the people you have around you, I would say.

I have met both good and bad reactions. Good reactions from people you thought were going to react badly and bad reactions from the people you figured would accept you.

It's hard to say what to do and what not to do. Just try it, and hopefully it works out. But, ONLY try to tell if you feel comfortable with the people around you, otherwise do not tell.

Evin

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When I've been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I had a job, and I told my boss about it who has been incredly supportive along with the assistant-manager. They cared a lot for me. Unfortunately, I have not been able to stay at that job, since we didn't know when I could go back to work, we all decided that it was better for the company to give the job to someone else. I have been unemployed ever since, the last time I worked was in October 2010. I tried seeking for another job after that, and I made the mistake to mention my bipolar disorder in my CV, more precisely in my letter of motivation. I will not make that mistake again. From now on, I do not tell any employers that I suffer from bipolar disorder, the stigma and the prejudices are so strong about this illness. I do not feel like they need to know. I function normally ever since I have my medication, I do things right, I have good marks at school, I am not bothering anybody. They do not need to do as long as I do my job the right way. I might consider saying it, only once I am hired, if I feel that my boss is someone that could potentially understand but in general, I prefer not to.

Edited by Prudence Jane

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I haven't told my boss, but i have told 2 workmates that I feel are friends.

Occasionally I take a day off sick and it doesn't get questioned. At this stage I am only working weekends ans I am in uni during the week.

I normally would never consider telling a boss about my bipolar, but I feel that my current boss would be quite understanding if I did need to tell her.

We have books in the staff room about dealing with mental illness and stress, available for anyone to borrow and numbers to ring, so It's a pretty good company.

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I am worried. I have applied at a job for a fast-food restaurant very near where I live, and I had to fill in a form along with giving my resume. On the form, I have been asked "Why have I left my old job?". I said that I just wanted to change some air, try new things and experiences. I haven't written the real reason as to why I have stopped working. I gave a sheet with the name and phonenumber of my old boss and I am afraid that she will tell my potential new boss the reason why I had to left my old job. I left for the reasons that I have explained above. I only consider bringing my illness up only if my potential new boss ask me and I plan on telling him that many people with bipolar disorder are functionnal and active in society, that their illness does not necessarily affect the way they work.

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Hi Prudence Jane,

You do have to be careful with what you say to employers. Some will be supportive while other won't. I'm not sure what a previous employer can disclose to a potential one, but I hope you are able to get the job.

Lindahurt

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