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If you looked at your staff, the people that come for interviews, your family and your friends, you would find that 1 in 4 (yes 25% of the population) fit into a WHO definition of those who will be impacted by a mental or neurological challenge at some point in their lives.
Other than the split of the population of the world into male/female, this 1 in 4 group we are talking about is one of the largest groups of people we could be talking about. So why do they get such a rough ride?
We stigmatise this group, we deny them jobs, marginalise them and we fail to understand them. Yes - many of us do that to our friends and family, and we often tolerate that behaviour directly or indirectly to our own people.
So is it time to think again? If you hire staff, remember that we are talking a group of people so large that you should consider them normal. They are functional and some are probably sitting unknown to you across the desk from you right now and you'd never know it.
People with mental health challenges mostly show no symptoms at all. Most never do, never will. So if they have been honest enough to talk about their mental health in general, and maybe depression or anxiety, then some would say that you just saw attributes in them that include integrity, honesty, truthfulness, self-awareness etc.. Just what you want in a friend or employee. Attributes that are not always apparent up front.
Give them a break - just as you hope others will do in turn to your own friends and family.
Isn't it time to do something about this? Change starts with you. Let's end the stigma together. Let's have honest open conversations without stigma or fear. Give them an even chance.
ADD, ADHD, Depression, Bipolar, Anxiety, being in recovery from an addiction... these are the attributes of normal people. The attributes of your friends, family and colleagues. These are things that are infinitely manageable. They generally do not impact performance or friendships any more than anything else that life has to throw at us.
Brian Tancock is a Director and Founder of The Advocacy Partnership
The Advocacy Partnership builds bridges between those with specialist mental health knowledge and those that may need help. We work with Psychotherapists, Corporates and individuals to creating value for mental health professionals and advocates whilst educating and raising awareness.