The Illusion of Inclusion – Roadblock #2
Disclosure is too risky
for the majority of the population
Disclosure is too risky for the “average” citizen. Only those viewed as celebrities (and likely to be perceived as even more awe inspiring in light of a mental illness), or those supported by a spouse, or financially secure without earned income, have the “freedom” to speak out. Most cannot risk losing the roofs over their heads.
The majority of people with mental illness understand that employment provides them with a sense of purpose, opportunities to interact with others, and daily structure…all of which are crucial for maintaining mental health; however, they may require workplace accommodations, the option to work part time, or time off to recover at times in order to cope with, and manage their disabilities. While on the one hand, these adjustments can prevent them from experiencing additional anxiety, making mistakes, missing medical appointments, and failing to adequately perform their jobs…on the other hand, they fear that asking for these individual “privileges” may lead their employers to doubt their ability to productively manage job responsibilities. Whether or not they request accommodations, there are real risks to their job security. Thus, they find themselves in Catch 22 situations with NO good choices.
While many are able to slide under the radar for some time; even with accommodations, their performance may not be acceptable over the long run, or during difficult episodes of decompensation. And, the stigma they are likely to encounter after revealing a mental illness may be an even greater concern; as it may deters their supervisors from increasing their responsibilities, or offering them new assignments. In some professions (especially medicine, social services, and teaching), this may amount to career suicide, and the inability to support oneself even in another profession; because they lack training in other lines of work, have no experience, and have no viable references.
While many struggle to preserve the benefits of a stable work routine (and avoid the additional stress and irritation of unemployment); missteps can lead to job loss…and as with disclosure…threaten one’s access to future “gainful” employment.
NPR explored the down side of nondisclosure in Working Through Depression: Many Stay On The Job, Despite Mental Illness.
Be Counted! Illuminate Mental Diversity at Work.
There is safety (AND strength) in numbers. “All for one, and one for all.”
Suggestions, feedback, comments, and questions welcomed at MindingDiversity@aol.com
© October 2015