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The Deep-Rooted Stigma of Mental Illness in Employment

The Deep-Rooted Stigma of Mental Illness in Employment

The main objective of this paper is to highlight the social phenomena of mental illness and its causal relationship with employment. Research from credible sources confirms that people suffering from mental illness are discriminated against in the workplace. This discrimination ranges from unfair recruitment procedures to employee promotion, among other issues. Being disqualified under such circumstances leads to excessive mental stress experienced by those affected. This eventually may erode the confidence levels of the individuals, and their condition may worsen further.

Moreover, mentally ill people may feel isolated from the society (Stuart 523). They become further frustrated with their lives because of the stigmatization they must undergo to pursue equitable employment opportunities. Stigma is the main source of the negative causal relationship between mental illness and employment. Those who are mentally disabled are directly discriminated against if their potential employers have prior information concerning this marginalized group. Their workmates treat them with contempt and do not like being associated with them at their places of work. The mentally ill people are generally perceived as incompetent and ineffective and cannot handle their tasks according to the required standards. Such a negative perception towards the mentally unfit people has been practiced since ancient times, and it remains a social disorder deeply rooted in people’s minds. Therefore, findings have shown that people with mental disorders remain disadvantaged and may never get the opportunity to earn their living correctly.

Employment is seen as a major stepping stone towards the recovery process of mentally ill people. This is because it provides an opportunity for self-evaluation and to regain their confidence levels that have been eroded due to the negative treatment from their colleagues and respective managers. The opportunity to be employed conveys a sense of social identity and self-worth. A person feels appreciated and valued in society, and belonging to a given association aids the recovery process of people suffering from mental disorders. Work also functions as a normalizing and stabilizing factor, providing one with the daily routine, which finally helps the affected people obtain financial and moral support. The work also allows one to meet and make new friends and alleviate poverty through the earnings one makes from work.

Consequently, this leads to a decrease in the levels of inability. However, in most instances, those who are mentally unfit lack this opportunity. The distribution of equal chances for all citizens, regardless of their state of mind, is not balanced. Managers usually prefer to employ recruits who are mentally and physically fit because of the belief that their quality of work is relatively better and meets the required threshold. In such circumstances, the state of the mentally unfit people is jeopardized doubly. This is because of their stigma, lack of an opportunity to be employed, and the competitive edge arising from their mental disorder.

Socio-cultural barriers have also played a significant role in the discrimination of mentally unfit people under the current employment requirements and expectations. This is due to the conviction that little should be expected from those with mental disorders. Moreover, their achievement standards are generally perceived to be very minimal. This notion implies that it is very complicated for mentally unfit people to be recruited into the competitive workforce (Stefan 67). Despite enacting laws that justify the right to work and live for those with mental disorders, the trend of discrimination, which is widespread, has not been modified in any way. Therefore, their chances of employment relative to the mentally fit people will always be unfavorable. Findings from the research carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO) have shown that stigmatization remains the core reason for discrimination against people with disability. They have tried to improve the health of people with mental disorders by providing free health services and mental checkups. However, their efforts have been thwarted by the lack of political will and commitment to providing adequate health facilities.

The inadequate government and political support and commitment have led to the abandonment of projects oriented towards improving the conditions encountered by the mentally unfit people. Such proposals include sensitizing the communities to accept and embrace those suffering from mental disorders. Such undertakings need an adequate provision of funds, notably from the government. Lack of political will has played a key role in the dilapidated conditions exposed to mentally unfit people. The proposal to exercise equality in the employment sector should also be backed with the financial capability to make the project successful. However, this has remained unchanged despite the changing trends experienced in the world. All these factors have made it impossible to eliminate the problem of stigmatization for people suffering from mental disorders. Thus, politics will be changed all over the world. The consequences have remained recurrent and persuasive, and the political institutions should make a considerable effort to alter this perception for good.

Employers’ attitude towards recruiting people suffering from mental disorders has also contributed to the distal cause and proximate cause of the discrimination of people with mental disabilities. The extent to which employers accept people with mental disabilities depends on the perception the employers have towards this group. Therefore, prospective and potential employees face the dilemma of divulging all the information concerning their medical history. Generally, they fear that the fact they may be suffering from mental disorders leads to reduced chances of being employed. Disclosure of such information may lead to dismissal from their place of work or greatly jeopardize their chances of being recruited by the organization (Heller & Gitterman 134). The perceived lack of protection in circumstances where the potential employees have divulged information that concerns their medical history implies that employment opportunities or promotional chances remain limited. Thus, unless the managers change their attitudes to accommodate the recruitment of people with mental disabilities, the stigma they endure will not be eliminated easily.

In conclusion, this paper explains the social phenomena of mental illness and its causal relationship to employment. Findings from various sources have outlined that stigmatization has been the major problem facing people suffering from mental disorders. They are treated differently in that they are discriminated against by employers who negatively perceive them. As a result, their chances of being employed are minimal, which erodes their confidence levels. Unfortunately, the responsible governments gave no special attention to such a negative situation. Sensitization should be encouraged at all levels to accommodate all people with mental disorders. Employers should also change their attitude and be more accommodating. A positive change in political commitment will go a long way in aiding the recovery of mentally ill people and their consequent absorption into the workforce.

📎 References:

1. Heller, Nina, R & Gitterman, Alex. Mental Health and Social Problems: A Social Work Perspective. New York: Taylor & Francis. 2010. Print.
2. Stefan, Susan. Hollow Promises: Employment Discrimination against People with Mental Disabilities. New York: American Psychological Association. 2002. Print.
3. Stuart, Heather. “Mental Illness and Employment Discrimination.” Forensic Psychiatry 19.5 (2006): 522-526. Web. 6 March 2013.