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It’s illegal for a workplace to discriminate against someone because of a mental health condition—but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
In an ideal world, revealing a mental illness at work means you’ll be met with support. In the real world, that’s not always the case. Take these steps to make sure disclosing helps, instead of hinders, your career.
In An Interview
No need to offer up your diagnosis. Studies show that companies are reluctant to hire candidates with mental disorders. And it’s hard to prove your health was what took you out of the running, says Chad Saunders, an attorney who specialises in workplace discrimination.
On The Job
Speak up if you need help. Request a meeting with both your direct manager and HR to outline, specifically, what you’d like your workplace to provide (for example, a flexible schedule so you can get to therapy sessions). Recap everything in an email so you have a record. Suggest they contact an Employee Wellness Programme provider, suggests Mariaan Jacklin, occupational therapist at Akeso Specialised Psychiatric Clinics.
“They can provide your company with mental health first-aid training. This includes advice on how to approach mental health in the workplace and provides an action plan for crisis situations.”
If You’re Fired Or Feel You Had To resign
Contact your local office of The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). They will assess your case free of charge. “The Mental Health Act and Employment Equity Act prohibit any discrimination based on a person’s mental status,” says Jacklin.
Looking for more on mental health? Here are three major signs of depression (that everyone can see), plus top tips that’ll help you deal with intrusive thoughts.