Can mental health stigma put hurdles in getting employment?
To start with, a crisp answer for that powerful question above is YES! The stigma associated with the people who are dealing with some sort of mental health issue do prevent them from getting employment, no matter how qualified and capable they are.
But why, and till when?
We, as society, typically blame the individual dealing with mental illness as the sole reason behind the misery. They are being blamed for the symptoms and behaviour they show due to the mental health issue. These individuals are perceived as bad decision makers, who cannot even take care of themselves. This is the reason they are considered ‘unsuitable’ for any job roles in the workforce by the organisations.
Let’s check the statistics:
As seen in a research study, discrimination towards mentally challenged individuals (in terms of employment or retainng employment) lowers the probability of them being hired in the first place. Oftentimes, in the cases they are hired, the wages are reduced significantly. The individuals living with their mental illness conditions are 6-7 times more likely to be unemployed if we compare them to the general public at large. The loss of income to our population due to this specific sector’s unemployment statistics is significant.
The plight of the ‘mentally challenged’ population:
When the people suffering with mental health issues apply for a job, they are often told that the severity of their condition limits their future and disregards the talent and abilities that they possess already. However, the fact of the matter is that people with mental issues are more limited by stigma around their condition rather than their actual symtoms.
Time to improve the situation:
It’s time that policies are implemented to help mentally ill individuals acquire jobs for themselves and secure their future. Here is how each one of us can do our part in bringing this about:
What company leaders can do?
Company leaders are responsible for bringing a change in employment policies of an organisation. They should reintegrate and provide areas in the workforce for individuals suffering with mental illness. They must pave the way for a healthier environment for individuals suffering from mental illnesses to manage their work as well symptoms properly. Anti-discrimination laws must be in place to ensure there is no discrimination against candidates suffering from mental health conditions.
What individuals can do?
The best way to stop stigma around mental illness is to, at the bare minimum, educate yourself about relevant topics and then normalize these conversations in the masses. We must stop using stigmatizing language and slurs, and practice empathy and understanding. We must make ourselves aware of mental health in order to remove the stigma that surrounds it.
You as an individual or a company can definitely make a difference in the lives of employees with mental illness by making your workplaces more accommodating. Together, we can solve the issue of workplace stigma, and improve the lives of many.