People with mental condition forced to hide illness

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Let’s take the example of one person who completed a fine arts degree and was practising as a lecturer at a university. Despite having a Masters degree in fine art she was let go by the University. Now, one cannot for certain say that the University deliberately forced her out because of her mental condition. But the likelihood is that she was passed over because the institution could not make allowances for her.

Where is she now? We cannot disclose her name but we can say that she has taken her art knowledge and skills and translated them into giving private art lessons. This is not enough for an income so she has involved herself in garment and clothing accessories construction. Although it is tough to work independently, this women no longer has to hide her mental condition from anybody.

Another woman was starting her career as a lawyer when her first psychotic episode struck. It was a huge setback and took her out of the workplace for a long time. Eventually she was able to return to work at another workplace. But she did not disclose her mental condition for fear of discrimination and recrimination.

Today she is working in a large company as a lawyer. We cannot disclose her name but can reveal her story. You may wonder why it is not possible to disclose your mental condition to an employer. It’s not the same as a physical condition. A person with a physical condition will have mobility and other challenges. Someone with a mental condition will have mental challenges. Why is this so so? Think about it. Soon as say you have a mental condition others will think differently about you. Because employers are not educated about people with a mental condition and do know how to handle them. They will treat you differently. They will view you differently. They may take work away from you which otherwise they would have given to you. They may pass you over for promotion. They may rate your performance differently and give you a lower annual salary increase.

This is the fear that this young woman lawyer as. So she has to do I illness from her employers. Yes, she has benefits working for a large company. She is able to afford a new car every few years, buy a house and go on overseas holidays to far flung places in the world.

However, there are times because of her condition that she needs to unwind and rebalance from her work but she can’t say anything to her employers. She merely has to bite the bullet and continue working at the gruelling pace demanded by the company.

There you have it. You can enter the workplace, disclose your condition, and take your chances. Or, you can decide to keep quiet and live a double life. Prejudice, discrimination and exclusion is not something that will simply go away for the person with a mental condition. If you want to enter the workplace, you will have to face this reality, put it aside, and do the best work you are capable of doing.

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