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    Discrimination At Work Due To Mental Health

    Surveys show that many people affected by mental health conditions are eager to work. Despite of this, rates show that only a fifth of them are working. What gets in the way is discrimination, and fears of being treated unfairly in the job sector. 

    Let’s talk employment for a second.

    It’s one of those things I find extremely difficult. Probably the number 1 thing that scares me the most in life, thus my lack of job experience. The fear of being judged negatively and rejected is always present. Discrimination is another factor.

    Let’s get into that.

    Fears are getting in the way
    I’ve always harboured the fear of not being good enough and that people, employers in particular, would see it. That nagging feeling inside, those toxic self-limiting beliefs that keep telling me that I’m just not cutting it. Usually it’s things such as thinking an employer would never be happy with me and what I do, I’d disappoint them and ultimately myself. Thus, I stayed away. I purposefully chose to depend on others instead because it was easier. It was the option that frightened me the least.

    Many people like me fear discrimination in workplaces. The idea of putting yourself out there is unimaginably scary. For me, I’ve obviously never experienced it first-hand, but I know it exists. I’ve heard way too many stories to believe it doesn’t. Being avoidant have simply “protected” me from it- The fear of rejection and judgement kept me out of situations which I considered risky.

    Grim statistics 
    It’s no bigger surprise to me to find out that people living with mental health conditions are amongst the least likely of any group with a long-term health condition or disability to:

    • find work
    • be in a steady, long-term relationship
    • live in decent housing
    • be socially included in mainstream society.

    The employment rates among people who suffer mental illness are sadly extremely low. According to a survey The UK National Labour Force conducted are the rates alarming. Out of the whole adult population are roughly 75% employed. When it comes to people with physical disabilities the figure was around 65% while, for people with severe mental health conditions the figures show a strikingly low 20%. 20%! Another survey showed that as many as 90% of people with severe mental health problems actually want to return to work but feel unable to.

    These statistics reflect how wide-spread the discrimination really is. In England alone, one out of three people with mental health issues say that they have been faced with discrimination in form of being dismissed or resigned from their jobs. 40% of people disclosed that they were denied a job due to their condition and about 60% say that they avoid applying for jobs altogether out of fear of being treated unfairly. That’s very much were I fit in myself.

    Discrimination at work
    So what does it mean to be discriminated against at work? Well, basically it happens when an employee is being treated unfairly due to their disability (or in our case, a mental health disorder). This can have great negative impact on the ill employee. It can create a toxic working environment, affect co-workers and the overall productivity of the organization. The most important aspect to take into account is the recovery of the employee. Discrimination can have catastrophic consequences when it comes to the mental stability and self-esteem of the person in question. That, in itself can lead to further stress and mental health problems.

    Conceal or disclose?
    This is one of those questions I ask myself a lot. Especially the last couple of months. In a job interview, would I rather reveal my fragile mental state or would I better conceal it while talking to a potential employer? Is there a right or wrong in this context? I really don’t know. As for myself it’d cause me a lot of distress carrying around this secret and spend time making sure I don’t slip up and reveal it by accident. It’s a big stress factor for sure. One I’m not convinced is worth the trouble. But disclosing this in an interview can instead mean that I don’t get the job at all, or that I’m being generally treated unfairly. Gossiping or extra attention is the last thing I’d want in such a situation.

    What are your thoughts and ideas on this? Are you working, and if so, does your employer know of any potential trouble you’re facing?

    With Love,
    Kristina

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    10 Things Not To Say To Someone With A Mental Health Condition

    Living with mental health problems isn’t easy. It’s usually a lonely road filled with anxiety and pain. Support in form of family and friends is crucial, but it’s not always easy for loved ones to know what to do or say in certain situations in order to help.  At times, things said can even be counter-productive.

    Before you’ve experienced mental illness first hand it’s hard to understand just how sensitive many of us are, and how important it is to speak with care. Prejudices are easy to come by, and I’ll admit I’ve been guilty of having them as well. There was a time when I thought PTSD was something only war-veterans could have, or that suffering from Schizophrenia equalled being crazy “for real”. Saying you’re OCD also seems to be one of those common phrases people tend to mis-use. Having OCD doesn’t mean you like to arrange your shoes by color. OCD, Obsessive Compulsory Disorder, is a serious anxiety disorder and term that shouldn’t be thrown around lightly. We’re all responsible to educate ourselves, to talk to the people around us and try to understand.

    I thought I’d list some of the most common comments people who suffer mental illness receive from the public and why they are inappropriate:

    1. “Oh come on, it could be worse!”
    The neighbour lost their family dog, or the colleague was diagnosed with cancer or a bomb struck in Syria. Terrible things happen in the world every day. That doesn’t mean that people who suffer from depression or other illnesses aren’t entitled to their emotions and thus deserve to have their feelings and experiences belittled.

    Mental health issues usually have no real triggers. It’s not something that is easily controlled. By comparing lives, you also run the risk of making the mentally ill person feel even worse due to guilt for feeling a certain way. It’s important to remember that illnesses are fact illnesses and not an attitude.

    2. “Just snap out of it.”
    If it only was that easy. Yet this seems to be the most commonly used comment. Telling somebody to just snap out of it is dismissive, and basically means that they should ignore, or endure, their pain.

    3. “It’s all in your head.”
    Technically that is correct. Mental illnesses are “in your head”, but not in the way this comment is usually intended- as something imaginary that the sufferer has chosen. This attitude also trivialise the physical symptoms that often comes with mental illness such as disturbed sleep, muscle pains, tiredness and weight loss or gain.

    4. “You’re just lazy.”
    Some individuals with mental health problems may come across as lazy, especially those who suffer from depression where the energy-levels are affected. Before making any such statements you first need to take into account how ill that person really is. ”Lazy” is a character trait, not a symptom of an illness.

    5. “Everyone is a little depressed sometimes – it’s normal.”
    It’s not unusual to hear people refer to themselves as depressed while in reality they are simply feeling down for a couple of days. Everybody feel down, or have mood swings at some point. That is normal. But there’s a distinct difference between being depressed and feeling down, though. If a depressed person constantly hears that what they’re feeling is normal they are less likely to get the help they need. Be careful.

    6. “You are like your father/mother.”
    We can’t help but to take after certain family members. To unintentionally mimick their habits or behaviours. However, saying things such as “you’re like your mother” or “you’re like your father” while the person endure intense stress is not a very wise thing to do. Usually this is said in a negative manner and being likened to a parent and their flaws bring extra stress and can escalate behaviours.

    7. “Look how lucky you are. Be thankful!.”
    This is such a big misconception. I am thankful for what I have. That doesn’t help depression though. Depression has biological factors and needs to be treated just like any other sickness. You wouldn’t say “You’re lucky as well, so stop sneezing”.

    8. “Happiness is a choice!”
    As if somebody would choose to purposefully not be happy?

    9. “You just need to try harder.”
    Since mental illness is usually invisible, it often doesn’t show how hard the person is actually trying. Then hearing somebody tell you you’re not trying hard enough when you’re already giving it your best can be extremely insulting and very frustrating.

    10. “You should get out more.”
    The problem here is that the symptoms of depression and many other conditions include lack of motivation and fatigue and are probably the reason the person is at home in the first place. If he or she felt well enough to go outside, then they probably wouldn’t be depressed.

    Many of these comments are usually said with good intentions, but unless you truly understand the nature of these mental health conditions there’s a good chance you’re doing more harm than good. Save the advice and instead give your love and support as they recover with the help of professionals.

    As usual, thank you all for reading! Please, comment, share and subscribe.

    With Love,

    Kristina

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    The Mental Health Awareness Month – What Can You Do To Help?

    To some, the launching of my blog may have come as a surprise. The truth is though that I had been considering it for months already. May seemed to be the perfect time for me since it’s the National Mental Health Month in the United States. I’m European myself, but I love the idea of bringing awareness to an issue so close to home so of course I’m joining in!

    For as long as human-kind has known of mental illnesses, we’ve also been juggling the stubborn stigmas that come with it. Those who suffer rarely open up to talk about their struggles due to fear of being judged or looked down upon. Our society has made mental illnesses seem like something to be ashamed of, like those who suffer are damaged goods, which is why so many people still hide it away today. We may have come quite a bit on the way already, I won’t deny anyone that. But our culture today still has a long way to go in order to reach where we should be in the year 2018.

    According to the Journal of Abnormal Psychology will up to 80% of the population be affected by mental illness at some point in their life whether directly or through family and other loved ones. 50 million people are affected by depression and over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year. With those statistics it’s clear that having conversations about mental health is of importance to all of us.

    To properly embrace the National Mental Health awareness month I’ll share with you ways you can help to support those who live with mental illness.

    1. Educate yourself
    One of the best things you can do to support those who suffer from mental health problems is to educate yourself on different types of illnesses, find out what the warning signs are and learn about the common misconceptions. Much of the stigma that surrounds mental illness comes from misinformation or lack of information. Therefore, is education a vital step to fight the stigma.

    For good, basic information you can check these websites out:

    National Alliance on Mental Illness
    Mental Health America

    2. Share your knowledge
    If you yourself live with mental illness and find yourself at a place where you’re able to talk about it, then talk about it! The best way to fight stigma is to shine light upon what is unknown and provide examples to prove the contrary to what so many people believe. Living with mental health issues doesn’t make us dangerous or constantly miserable. Spread the word.

    3. Donate to a Mental Health Charity
    Donations can be made anonymously if you wish, nobody would have to know it’s you. Even smaller amounts count and make a big deal to enable charities to help those in need. Any donation of any type and value is precious so if you can, please consider.

    4. Challenge the stigma
    It is possible that you may come across comments about mental health problems that are discriminating, or are putting people with mental illnesses down. If so, you can stand up against it. By challenging stigma that surrounds mental health you may possibly change someone’s view on the subject. Just one person with a change of heart makes a difference.

    Together we can stop the stigma. Thank you for reading!

     

    With Love,

    Kristina