If you are somebody who suffers from a mental health issue you will know how much of an impact it can have on your career. From looking for jobs in the first place to keeping them once you have them – your mental health can have a drastic effect.
Applying for a job
Even before you have started a job your mental health can have an impact. If you suffer from depression and anxiety you have probably had absence periods throughout your career. Unfortunately, these are a common side effect of these conditions, sometimes you can’t physically force yourself through the working day.
People know this! If you are hiring someone with a mental health condition you are going to be cognizant that their condition may lead to periods of absence. If you are a worrier you may consider omitting your condition because of that stigma. There are a couple of points to raise on that front. First and foremost, legally people are not allowed to discriminate against you due to your mental health. If you declare you are disabled a lot of establishments, especially in the public sector, are obligated to give you an interview.
But can’t they just pretend?
Yes, of course, they can choose not to hire you because of your condition and claim it is due to something else. And it is impossible to prove otherwise. This may put you off disclosing your condition but in actuality, it shouldn’t. If the person hiring is the sort of person who will willingly discriminate during the interview process then do you see working for them going any differently? Why work for a person who isn’t kind and understanding? It may seem like a bummer when you don’t get a job. But ultimately if they choose to not give you a job based on your illness then in some ways they have done you a favour.
When is my illness classed as a disability
If you have had persistent depression, anxiety etc. for more than two years and it has affected your work, for example, caused you to take time off, then it is classed as a disability. If this is the case you are protected under the Equality Act (2010).
Advantages of disclosure
If you disclose having a disability then your employer will know and can try and make adjustments for you should you be successful. Legally they are required to do this. If you don’t disclose this information then you can’t expect any special treatment. I mean if the people you work for are good they may do something just to help you do your job more effectively but they have no legal requirement to do that.
Keeping your job
This is where things get difficult. Most workplaces will have a probationary period. Until you have “passed” that period they can let you go with just a weeks notice. After that, you have a little more protection. But ultimately if you need a lot of time off due to your condition then you may struggle to keep a job.
If it gets to the point where you cannot keep a job because of your illness then it may be worth looking at Personal Independence Payments. This is the benefit for people who are disabled. It can be given to people who are employed or unemployed. However, the application process is lengthy, complex and can be quite demoralising. Sometimes you need to realise your limitations. If you can only work consistently for 2-3 days a week then get a job where you only work 2-3 days a week. Of course, this could leave you short financially and that is exactly why disability benefits exist.