Research suggests that’s that nearly two-thirds of adults wouldn’t tell their employers if they were diagnosed with schizophrenia.
The research, taken by charity Rethink Mental Illness, found that only 35% of people would be open with their boss if they found out they had the illness.
Using an online YouGov poll of more than 2,000 adults one in four said they wouldn’t tell a friend if they had the illness either and more than three-quarters wouldn’t tell a neighbour.
CBI, a business group, says that more needs to be done by employers to improve conditions for staff with mental health problems.
BBC Newsbeat interviewed one woman named Jazmin Chatelier who began to suffer from schizophrenia when she was 22. She said that she initially felt unable to tell anyone about what was happening and that once she did, their reactions were difficult to take.
“A lot of people just called me an attention-seeker, they did not understand what I was going through, and they thought I was making it up,” she said. Jazmin told her employer about her illness and was told: “‘You are not well enough to do this,’ even though I had done the job for a year and I was well enough to do it.” This has made her question whether she would tell future employers about her illness.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists estimates that every one in 100 people will suffer from schizophrenia at some point in their life. People aged between seventeen and 35 are most likely to develop the condition.
Rethink Mental Illness is now calling for companies to do more to prevent discrimination. Rachel Hobbs from the charity says that: “I think with conditions like schizophrenia people are still really afraid to tell people about it, and that really matters. We know that when people are open with their boss and their work colleagues, that is when they can get support and adjustments so that they are more likely to be able to stay well, and stay in their job.”
The charity does admit that some people with schizophrenia will be unable to work, like with any serious health problem.
Neil Carberry is the Director for Employment and Skills for the CBI. “Mental health in the workplace is a big challenge for employers,” he said. “We’ve spent 20 years resolving issues of safety and we have one of the best workplace safety records in the world, but we have not done enough yet to address the issue of health, and particularly mental health.”
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