In this case, people have pre-existing mental health conditions that they “bring to work”. What do I mean by this? Perhaps you have been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, or suffer from major depressive disorder, or something else. Regardless of what it might be, you are aware of an existing mental health condition that you have to manage. Whether you learnt of it recently or not, it’s part of your life and who you are.
And yet, it’s quite rare for people to disclose this type of information at work. Most of us feel very uncomfortable talking about mental health conditions in the workplace because we’re scared it will be used against us. That we will be fired, viewed as untrustworthy, weak, etc…
This means people with mental health issues have a double burden at work: keeping their secret, and managing their mental health on a daily basis.
We need to make it possible for people to disclose their conditions, so they can have access to the help they need – when they need it. For example if you need weekly therapy sessions, that should be supported by your employer. It’s also important for colleagues to know how to help those that have a mental health issue, rather than simply categorize them as “loony”.
This is one of the reasons why I believe we need to increase awareness about, and the dialogue around, mental health in the workplace.