To disclose mental illness at work, or not to disclose? That’s always a tough question

The other day, the New York Times had a worthwhile article on the pros and cons of revealing your mental illness at work. For me, and for so many, this is a dicey issue. I don’t think I’ve ever revealed any of my issues to a boss. I also wonder if that’s a good thing or not.

Times are changing as far as understanding of mental illness is concerned–but for many of us, they haven’t changed fast enough. The article lists several important factors to consider before revealing your status, including the company’s culture and your own professional track record. Have any of you ever revealed your status at work? How did it go? I’d love to hear about in the comments section.

Also, you can read the Times article here at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/15/your-money/disclosing-mental-disorders-at-work.html?smid=tw-share&_r=1.

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4 responses to “To disclose mental illness at work, or not to disclose? That’s always a tough question

  • katyrs215

    It depends. I think I would declare my autism spectrum disorder because there are things that are little that I might react to that people won’t understand, or I might not understand something. I also think it’s a bit more socially acceptable.
    However, I wouldn’t declare the fact I’m diagnosed with social anxiety disorder because I think that makes me sound unreliable, weak, and not a good member of the team. It probably sounds like I can’t work properly too. When I was struggling with depression more and self harm and things like that, I would never ever declare it because of the negative stigma. Also wouldn’t diagnose trichotillomania because it’s not a ‘popular’ condition and it’s embarrassing and not understood or known much about. I think many mental health conditions are still something we’re embarrassed about that we don’t like to admit to even though we can be just as hard workers.
    I think it would depend on how much I know about the employer, whether I thought they would understand and how much it would impact on the job. I probably wouldn’t pick a job that my conditions would impact severely anyway – e.g. I would avoid jobs like reception because of phone calls and other jobs that involve crowds and being a public figure.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Alan Kravitz

    I agree with everything you said, katyrs215. In the support groups I attend, this is the issue that comes up most often. It’s a tough call. I have often suffered in silence, for fear that if I said anything, I would be fired.

    Like

  • Robert

    My own experience has been that even if I do not disclose my condition (unipolar depression plus severe social anxiety), it sooner or later becomes so obvious that keeping it a secret would be impossible even if desirable. As it happens, this condition has just forced me out of a well-paid (part-time) job that I could no longer do.

    Had I consciously concealed it, I think that I would get a double-whammy: the nature of the condition itself, plus the enforced mendacity which is ultimately involved in hiding it.

    Like

    • Alan Kravitz

      Thanks for your comment, Robert. I’m sorry you were forced out of your job. And yes, hiding it takes a lot of energy. Sometimes I’m good at hiding my conditions and sometimes I’m not good at it. It’s a constant battle.

      Like

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