guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 16th July
Whether they are applying for a new job or in long-term employment, people experiencing mental health difficulties are highly likely to encounter stigma and discrimination if they are open about having a diagnosis.
Despite mental health problems being common (one in six people in work at any given time are likely to be experiencing some form of distress or depression), workplaces can be extremely unaccommodating environments, according to the anti-stigma initiative Time to Change.
Survey after survey has revealed the scale of the problem. In a recent study by Time to Change, 67% of respondents said fear of stigma had stopped them from telling their employer or prospective employer about their mental health problems. In another, conducted in 2009, 92% of the public thought someone’s employment prospects would be damaged if they admitted to having a mental health problem.
Studies since 2009 have shown some improvements – for example, fewer staff within organisations believe someone with a mental health problem to be less reliable – but advocates and service users are adamant that much more needs to be done to eradicate employment hurdles.