Categories
Inspirational

Mental Health in the Workplace


Kathy A. Challis

Department of Education, The University of Texas of Permian Basin

EDCU 6302 Cultural Diversity

Media, Myth, Reality- Personal Reflection Paper

To: Dr. Jennifer Seybert

April 19, 2020

Contents

Mental Health in the Workplace. 1

Media. 3

Chapter One. 3

Workplace Violence Has Reached Epidemic Proportion. 5

References. 7

NATIONAL INSTITUTE MENTAL HEALTH…………………………………………………………………………. 8

Myth. 9

Chapter Two. 9

References. 14

Reality. 15

Chapter Three. 15

References. 20

Conclusion. 21

Chapter 4. 21

References     …………………………………………………………………………………………………………            23

Media

Chapter One

How is Mental Health in the Workplace depicted in the media?

The population as a whole culture tend to see mental health issues in the workplace as a negative trend. Organizations such as the National Alliance on  Mental Illness, (NAMI)  and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) are working to combat that stereotype. People with mental illness want to be treated like everyone else without mental illnesses– with respect. According to the article, Why employers need to talk about mental illness in the workplace, Joseph Rauch a contributor to Huff Post said, “Employees are afraid of discussing it with co-workers and bosses. They don’t want to lose their jobs, damage relationships or risk future employers learning of illnesses and judging them. The stigma of mental illness keeps them silent”  He future noted on a blog that many mental health therapists shared those same beliefs and discouraged full disclosure to an employer. The stigmas associated with mental illness are multi-generational. However, the benefits can outweigh the negatives such as job loss or no accommodations given. Joseph Rauch’s self-efficacy allowed him to take the risk of disclosure by saying, “It’s a big part of who I am and I take pride in it, so feeling free to mention it at work makes me more comfortable and, ultimately, a better employee,” when given reason why he discloses to his employer that he suffers from mental illness.  

How do these representations inform what we know?

Definition according to NAMI “Any mental illness (AMI) is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. AMI can vary in impact, ranging from no impairment to mild, moderate, and even severe impairment. *Serious mental illness (SMI) is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. The burden of mental illnesses is particularly concentrated among those who experience disability due to SMI.” I think that most people in our culture think of SMI as being the norm for those with mental illness. The Big Screen Media- Videos also portray mental health in positive and negative perspectives. The new [positive] film “Mad to Be Normal” is a biopic of RD Laing, a Glasgow psychologist who had unconventional ideas of treatment for mental illness.“Our mainstream perceptions of ‘madness’ are still fixated with movie scenes.”

What stereotypes do they perpetuate?

The stereotype portrays the mentally ill as seriously mentally ill; like those that go postal and commit homicide and suicide.  Thomas Insel (2012) in the article,  Preventing Suicide, One Employer at a Time state that there were 36,000 deaths annually due to suicide in the USA in 2012, which is higher than homicides and traffic accident deaths annually. Another fear that people hold about those with mental illness is the mentality that the mentally ill person will “go postal” at the workplace.

Workplace Violence Has Reached Epidemic Proportions (Charles Montaldo, 2019 ), “Workplace violence has reached epidemic proportions, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, with an average of three or four supervisors killed each month and two million workers who become victims of violence each year in the United States.”  “The term “going postal” came into our vocabulary on August 20, 1986, at a post office in Edmond, Oklahoma, when employee Patrick Henry Sherrill, known as “Crazy Pat” to some who knew him, shot two of his supervisors and then continued his rampage killing a total of 14 co-workers and injuring seven others. Ultimately he turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. After this incident, there seemed to be a rash of work-related violence in post offices, hence the term, “going postal.” What motivated Sherrill’s action? He believed he was about to lose his job, investigators found.” (Montaldo, C. 2019) According to World Health Organization, Mental Health in the Workplace, A healthy workplace can be described as one where workers and managers actively contribute to the working environment by promoting and protecting the health, safety, and well-being of all employees. … Promote mental health by developing the positive aspects of work and the strengths of employees.

Does it support or contradict your current understanding of Mental Health in the Workplace?

What did I learn through this process?

The media in movies and newspaper articles can paint a negative stereotype of a mentally ill person in the workplace. This stereotypical response supports my belief about the intolerance for those with mental illness in general society. The stigma associated with the mentally ill at the workplace is supported in a positive light by media in films like;  A Beautiful Mind (2001), It’s Kind Of A Funny Story (2010), Matchstick Men (2003), and negatively in media films like Black Swan (2010),  The Aviator (2004), Good Will Hunting (1997), Still Alice (2015).

When looking at the positive side of NAMI and CDC articles and recommended films, I grew hopeful that tolerance in accepting people with mental illness in the workplace is getting more prevalent. But then articles and movies that depict stereotypical deranged mentally ill sadden me. The dilemma of knowing when or if a prospective employee should disclose mental health issues in a job interview, or wait until after hired when forced to justify needing accommodation. As an educator, I feel compelled to give full disclosure to my prospective employer because we are talking about a potentially debilitating illness and the need for accommodations in the workplace, like an aide.

References

Center for Disease Control (CDC)

Insel, Thomas, Preventing Suicide, One Employer at a Time, August 1, 2012

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/directors/thomas-insel/blog/2012/preventing-suicide-one-employer-at-a-time.shtml ,   Accessed March 17, 2020

Montaldo, Charles,  Thought Co.,  It’s Official: “Going Postal” Is Epidemic, April 03, 2019  www.thoughtco.com › Humanities › Issues › Crime & Punishment    Accessed March 17, 2020.

National Alliance on  Mental Illness, (NAMI) 

NATIONAL INSTITUTE MENTAL HEALTH, Mental Health Information,  Suicide Signs and Symptoms,  https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml Accessed March 17, 2020.

NATIONAL INSTITUTE MENTAL HEALTH -Pierce County, Why Employers Need to Talk About Mental Illness in the Workplace,  https://namipierce.org/why-employers-need-to-talk-about-mental-illness-in-the-workplace/ Accessed March 17, 2020.

Rauch, Joseph, Huff Post, What Happened When I Told My Boss I Was Struggling With Mental Illness, December 3, 2016

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-happened-when-i-told-my-boss-i-was-struggling-with-mental-illness_b_8710756       Accessed March 17, 2020

 

WHO- Mental Health in the Workplace, accessed March 17, 2020.


http://www.who.int › mental_health › in_the_workplace

Video References

GSP Studios International, Mad to be Normal, 2020, Video Accessed March 17, 2020.  http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20180828-how-cinema-stigmatises-mental-illness   

Questions that I asked of myself and answered herein are:

How is Mental Health in the Workplace depicted in the media?

How do these representations inform what we know?

What stereotypes do they perpetuate?

Does it support or contradict your current understanding of the topic/population?

What did you learn through this process?

Myth

Chapter Two

I interviewed four women from different backgrounds, they are as follows: Gay Nell a Small Business Vender, Sheila an Office Worker, Kassidey a SPED Teacher, and Virginia a Nurse. Two have a high school education, and two advanced college degrees, three are white, one is a  Native American Indian the age range is 38 to 65.

How does the media portray mental illness positively and negatively?

GayNell-  That everyone with mental health issues is crazies and should be medicated or locked up.

Virginia- If people don’t understand they can’t put it in a positive position.

Sheila- Media goes overboard with paranoia and mental health.

Kassidey- The media is out to sensational the news.

What is the average mentality towards mental illness in the media

Sheila- I think most people are negative unless they have been through it themselves or with close family/friends.

Kassidey- I don’t know about the media’s mentality

Virginia- The media does not understand mental health. Just what sells.

GayNell- Being a positive person, you acknowledge them. Self-preservation by acknowledging how they are. We use empathy to communicate with others.  Communication works both ways with positive energy.

How do these representations inform what we know?

GayNell- Knowing each of your co-worker’s actions and attitudes. You have to get up with a good attitude and have self-confidence. Ans:  Take you meds before get to work, take them again at lunch.  Be humble and use your senses to acknowledge who they are and where they are.

Kassidey- I ignore the media hype- I work in reality with children who have special needs.

Virginia- There are many types of mental health just not “crazy“

 Sheila – It’s not realistic depiction, media paints a negative view of mental health

How do you deal with negative co-workers?

GayNell- I have two choices. They can watch me work or they can help me work.  You can go in seclusion and scream and pull your hair out. Everyone needs a hug to acknowledge how smart they are, That today is a sucky day but tomorrow will be better.

Kassidey- Ignore the negativity.

Sheila-  I’m a negative co-worker. Try to encourage others to make me laugh. Be kind to one another.

Virginia- You usually don’t run across them that much. You need to explain things to them and

help out.

How is mental illness perceived in the workplace?

Gay Nell- Being a positive person, you acknowledge them. Self-preservation by acknowledging

 how they are. We use empathy to communicate with others.  Communication works both way

s with positive energy.

Kassidey-  It used to be a taboo topic but in recent years there has been a big push to recognize burn-out, trauma, and the need for good self-care.

Sheila- If you are a caring person, they are supportive and encourage counseling.

Virginia-  That everyone with mental health issues is crazy and should be medicated or locked

up

What stereotypes do they perpetuate?

Gay Nell- Positive, acknowledgment of negative thoughts or positive thoughts to emulate a role model. You treat them the way you want to be treated.

Sheila- Supervisors are encouraging her to be positive about other mental health issues

Virginia-If you have mental health you must be crazy.

Kassidey- not favored.

Does it support or contradict your current understanding of Mental Health in the Workplace?

GayNell- I can almost tell you upon first seeing a person I can tell what type of mood they are in. I change my attitude based on my perception of their attitude. I try to be comical with people.

Sheila- Superiors Support mental health in the workplace

Virginia- Somebody needs help adjusting should be supported.

If you had to choose full disclosure in a job, would you?

Sheila- I told my boss that I have General Anxiety Disorder and Depression. They were supportive. Sheila- That giving full disclosure, that supervisors do care and if they aren’t then you need to find a different job that makes you comfortable.

Virginia – Yes, If you don’t tell them in advance, they won’t know how to help you in a crisis.

Kassidey- Full disclosure of what? That I have an anxiety disorder? Sure. My job already knows that. The reason for that anxiety disorder? Nope. None of their business

GayNell- yes, If they tell I can watch out for them and run interference or give them a break before the crisis stage.

What did I learn through this process?

As a consensus, the media overdramatizes the mentally ill as being crazy and should be put away and or medicated. People tend to believe what they hear on media is factual information and usually adapt to those premises. The Joker on Batman movie depicts a creative, high-functioning man who is crazy and/or a sociopath.  Unfortunately, this stereotype casts those with mental illness in a poor light. I know through reading articles on mental health and the workplace, and also I have three mental health disorders that have impacted the way I work in a workplace I can say that the stereotypes projected are wrong. Most people want to be healthy and be in control of their mental faculties and self-control. If it means taking medications and /or short hospital stays to get the medications onboard, then most people with mental health issues are willing to get it, if they live in a stable home environment. With sadness, I acknowledge that our homeless population is underserved by the mental health community. Many had gainful jobs but their untreated or mistreated mental illness took it away from them.

References

Actual Questions:

How is Mental Illness in the Workplace depicted in the media?

How do these representations inform what we know?

What stereotypes do they perpetuate? 

Does it support or contradict your current understanding of the Mental Illness in the Workplace

What did you learn through this process? 

How do you deal with negative co-workers?

What is the average mentality towards mental illness in the workplace?

If you had to choose full disclosure in a job, would you?

Participants:

Hall, Gay Nell white, female, age 62, high-school education

Smith, Kassidey white, female, age 38, college education

Volk, Sheila, white, female, age 58, high-school education

Yousey, Virginia, Native American Indian, female, age 65, college education

Reality

Chapter Three

How is Mental Illness in the Workplace depicted in the media?

Sarah- Media tends to overdramatize mentally ill people’s reactions to get a storyline. They create a huge production over symptoms.

Faith- The media makes our workplace seem like everyone is accepted and it’s not a problem if you have a mental illness.

Anna- I do not watch TV, so this is hard for me to answer but from what I did see, media is not showing much about the actual mental health illness.  They mostly focus on disabled people in the workplace. Mental health seems to go forgotten. 

How do these representations inform what we know?

Sarah- The drama created by media informs the public about diagnosis and we gain knowledge but sometimes its not correct.

Faith-Going into a workplace you think it’s safe to talk about mental illness with your co-workers but it is not like T.V.

Anna- the representations are limited. Many businesses, especially small, don’t even

cover mental health from what I understand. Beside basic visit to a therapist. Many

want general doctors to take care of the issue with a pill, without in-depth

assessment. 

What stereotypes do they perpetuate? 

Sarah- Stereotyping people with mental illness creates a level of good to worse as far as which diagnosis is the one that creates the worst actions versus a smaller symptom that is unnoticeable.

Faith-. The hierarchy of the workplace is still in place even if it is NOT talked about but must be followed. Exa: doctors, nurses, caretakers, and secretary.

Anna- stereotypes include the inability of full performance on the job, scare of mental breakdown in the workplace and inability to communicate or work well with others (team)

Does it support or contradict your current understanding of the Mental Illness in the Workplace?

 Sarah- It contradicts my understanding in the workplace by the reaction when I find our a client has a certain diagnosis verse another one.

Faith- You do not talk about it so your co-workers will not talk about you. Or you get fired if they find out about your home life or mental illness. No extra hours or extra shifts if the boss finds out, but you need to be home more due to mental illness.

Anna- neither I guess. I look at the thing from a different perspective 

How do you deal with negative co-workers?

Sarah- Negative co-workers cause me to avoid being around them. I just try not to join their teams.

Faith- Find our who they are as a person, and understand their point of view. Try to turn the negative into a positive.

Anna- It depends on how negative they are. Mostly I ignore them because it’s a waste to argue with ignorant people. If they push too hard I resort to teaching them a lesson. 

What is the average mentality towards mental illness in the workplace?

Sarah- The average mentality is avoidance or if someone finds out then rumors are spread very fast around the workplace.

Faith- A weakness that you don’t talk about/

Anna- I don’t think I’m in a good place to discuss a normal workplace. I have a job that mostly deals with clients and I can only speak for myself. I don’t hand out with other agents a lot. Mostly our contact is via phone/text/email about a particular transaction 

If you had to choose full disclosure in a job, would you?

Sarah-No, I would not choose full disclosure.

Faith- No full disclosure- it will be used against you. Maybe if you worked in the mental health hospital you would be understood.

Anna- full disclosure of individual mental health illness? No

How is mental health in the workplace culture perceived in the USA?

Faith- In the hospital mental illness is not handled. It is not perceived well and patients are sent to the psych ward or mental health rehabilitation center.

How does the media portray the mentally ill in the workplace in the USA?

Faith- In hospitals, the media portray that those with mental health are treated with acceptance like everyone else, but that is not reality.

How do family members support those with mental illness who work in the USA?

Faith- Family is more supportive when they understand at work. The hospital is not good about sharing with the family. Family cares, but the hospitals’ approach to mental health patients is to dope them up on medications and send them out the door to a psych ward or other facility.

 How is mental health in the workplace culture perceived in Poland?

It’s much worse than it is here. Discrimination is obvious and political correctness doesn’t really matter. However, it is getting better. Mostly it depends on how people are raised. If they are rude, it will show tenfold toward the person with a mental health issue.

How does the media portray the mentally ill in the workplace in Poland?

It’s not really addressed much. I can’t give a very accurate answer to this though, because I’m not there for close to 20 years. I also choose not to watch polish news. 

How do family members support those with mental illness who work in Poland?

Everything depends on severity. There is not much belief in ADHD and such, for example, or even autism. There are not many cases to be honest. As for lesser issues, families are trying to ignore it and make sure their family member is treated as anyone else and also develop necessary skills to how to deal with it. Where there are more significant issues, the family gets much more involved. 

References

NAMI – National Alliance on  Mental Illness, (NAMI) 

NIMI – NATIONAL INSTITUTE MENTAL HEALTH, Mental Health Information,  ,  https://www.nimh.nih.gov

Actual Questions

How is Mental Illness in the Workplace depicted in the media?

H ow do these representations inform what we know?

What stereotypes do they perpetuate

Does it support or contradict your current understanding of the Mental Illness in the Workplace?

What is the average mentality towards mental illness in the workplace

If you had to choose full disclosure in a job, would you?

How is mental health in the workplace culture perceived in the USA?

How does the media portray the mentally ill in the workplace in the USA?

How do family members support those with mental illness who work in the USA?

How is mental health in the workplace culture perceived in Poland?

How does the media portray the mentally ill in the workplace in Poland?

How do family members support those with mental illness who work in Poland?

Participants

Dewitter, Faith, white, us citizen, Registered Nurse

Diaz, Sara, white, us citizen, Homeless Shelter  Case Worker & Youth Advocate

Lopez, Anna, Poland; Naturalized Citizen USA, Realtor

Conclusion

Chapter 4

What did I learn through this process?

 I am shocked! The myth and media were somewhat similar but the reality was very different. Even with positive spins from the NAMI and NIMI purporting the benefits of having behavior health in place at places of employment; the reality is that the employees take a huge risk with self-disclosure.

      I have been living in a bubble. My church recognizes those with mental illness conditions in their HOPE Program; a counseling session in group therapy. My family and friends accept my mental illness and take it in stride. I assumed based on myth and media’s answers about the disclosure that it would be advisable for a prospective teacher to self-disclose so that the school principal could be prepared if an emergency arose in class. But the “reality”  people say that self-disclosure is a quick ticket to being fired or not hired.

     The media in all areas of media, myth, and reality are irresponsible and perpetuate the negative stereotypes of those with mental illness. Oprah had a woman guest on her show with Skitzophrenia and had her back a few days later and showed that woman having a rage in the green room, upsetting furniture and pulling at her hair and skin; she didn’t have the woman back as a guest. To those who understand mental health disorders, the guest was having a major anxiety attack that had gone “postal.

     This brings me to another disquiet and that people in general associate those who have mental illness in the workplace as a potential threat of them going “postal;” losing self-control and harming others and or self. In Poland, mental health is frowned upon. Most illnesses such as ADHD and Autism are not believed to exist.  Should one identify themselves with mental illness, society is rough on them for it. “As for lesser issues, families are trying to ignore it and make sure their family member is treated as anyone else and also develop necessary skills to how to deal with it.” (Anna, 2020).

      Another area of concern is what nurses really think about patients with mental illness. One nurse in chapter two was supportive, while in chapter three the nurse was told to medicate and release the patient to other mental health services as quickly as possible. I take it that their health condition is second in the diagnosis and rehabilitation effort. When I was in the hospital for 30 days last December 2019 and January 2020, I spent three days in ICU and the final doctor was very abrupt and rude with me and released me in a matter of minutes from ICU after seeing me. I know my mental health was a factor in getting me out of ICU- which by the way was good that I was improving, but unsettling by the swiftness and his parting comments. I also know from experience, while in mental health facilities that the nurses are lazy and make the patients fend for themselves when clearly skilled nursing practices are required.

            I also learned that being disabled has its drawbacks in the way people treat you. Whether it is physical like mental health, an outward physical ailment (wheelchair), or intelligence, people change their approach to you. Some pity, some are rude or callus, and some are angry at the one disabled. I think empathy should be the correct treatment rather than an emotional response. People are just that; humans, withal its strengths and frailties encompassed. Everyone deserves respect, even those who don’t respect themselves because of some mental illness.