Should mental illness be a basis for job discrimination?
Should mental illness be a basis for workplace discrimination? This is one of the most difficult questions that a person can have. Everyone has their own ideas about what a person with a mental disorder is like. For the sake of this article, however, we will focus on the idea that people with mental disorders should not be discriminated against. Everyone has different ideas about who mental patients are, what they should be able to do for society, and why society should not bar them from a career because of their mental illness. The issue really comes down to a couple of social principles:
The first principle, and perhaps the most important, is that disability does not equal competence. People with disabilities are capable of doing things without having a mental disability. This does not mean, however, that those with mental illnesses should not be able to do the same things. Employment decisions should be made based on the potential of a person rather than on their disability. In other words, a person with Autism can be as qualified as someone with Asperger’s.
The second principle is that people with mental illness should not be punished for something they cannot help doing. Sometimes a person’s compulsion to do something is so strong that it overrides their conscious mind. Unfortunately, this is often a very difficult thing to overcome, and people with mental illnesses often need extra guidance or assistance to overcome their compulsion. Don’t punish them for something they cannot help doing!
The third principle is that disability does not make an employee qualified for the job. Once again, this comes down to the idea that disability doesn’t always equal competence. For example, let’s say that Bob has been laid off from his job as a result of company policy. He applies for unemployment benefits, but is told that he must wait seven years before he is qualified for disability. The reason that Bob is told this is that Bob’s diagnosis of a mental disability was actually caused by another factor – his heart disease.
What many people with mental disabilities do not realize is that they are not always sick. Indeed, there are many people with mental illnesses who do not seem like they are sick at all. When a person tells a boss that they think they might be bipolar or suffering from depression, the boss may try to tell them that they are not really sick, or that it will “go away”. There is nothing that any doctor can say that will help Bob recovers from his disability. Bob’s disability didn’t “go away” when Bob was off work; his disability remains with him. Bob’s employer is wrong when they tell him that his disability is something that is going to go away because it just doesn’t.
When you are seeking employment, don’t let your disability is used as a reason why you aren’t qualified for the job. Employers understand that sometimes, a worker’s disability becomes an issue only when it prevents them from performing their duties in the workplace. If you have a serious mental illness, you may feel that your disability is getting in the way of things. As such, employers should not look down on you just because you are a disabled person. Employers may not have a rule against hiring someone with a mental illness, but they may not offer you a job if they think that you will not be qualified for the job.
When you first start looking for a job, you should not let your fears of being rejected push you away from seeking out a job. You shouldn’t let yourself think that you are unlovable, or that a job is only available to those who have a clean slate. Don’t let a single experience at your previous place of employment, define who you are and what you can do. Everyone has room for improvement. The worst that can happen is that you will be offered another chance at a different position at a different company.
There are many reasons that a person may think that they should be hired based on their disability. In most cases, these reasons have nothing to do with your capabilities as a person. Think carefully about what you want from life and what you can do to get it. If your reason for looking for work has nothing to do with your abilities and what you can do to make your life better, then you shouldn’t be afraid of asking for a job based on your mental health. After all, there are plenty of jobs out there that will accommodate your mental illness.