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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

 

Should I tell a prospective employer about my mental ill-health?


The law has been strengthened on what an employer can or cannot ask about a prospective employee’s health and disability and when the employer can do this in the recruitment process. 

However, it is up to you to decide what to tell an employer about your mental ill-health, and there are a number of things to think about. 

These include:

  • how you view your mental ill-health
  • how you want to start to build a relationship with your prospective employer
  • how your condition, including the treatment and medicines you take, might affect the type of work you can do. For example, medication can affect whether you can drive safely and legally.

You may feel that if you choose to disclose information about your mental ill-health, you control how this information is presented, and can describe how you have overcome difficulties.  If you tell your employer about your mental health problem, it can make it easier to get the right support in place for you.

On the other hand, it may not be easy or straightforward.  52% of people with a psychiatric history have hidden this fact from their employer for fear of losing their job.  Some people report that employers have lost interest when they tell them about their mental health history. 

However, it is often better than this. Surveys of companies that have employed people with a mental health problem suggest that they generally did not regret doing so.

Links to resources:


Realising ambitions: Better employment support for people with a mental health condition

Rachel Perkins, Paul Farmer and Paul Litchfield

Department for Work and Pensions, December 2009

This review was commissioned by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to look at mental health and employment and to identify how Government could help people with mental health conditions fulfil their employment ambitions.  Appendix 7 of the report sets out the advantages and disadvantages of disclosing information about mental ill-health at work.

 

Rethink

The section on work includes pros and cons on disclosing personal information to an employer to help you to decide what to tell, when and how. 

 

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and MIND

The guide, Managing and supporting mental health at work – disclosure tools for managers, will help employers ensure that how they manage people supports their mental wellbeing and resilience, and also encourage more employees to talk about any mental health issues they may be facing at an early stage.

 

Work and Mental Illness Factsheet

This Rethink factsheet sets out the advantages and disadvantages of telling an employer about your mental health.   

 

Building a career of your choice

Waghorn, G., Harris, M., Cleary, C., King, J., and Lloyd, C. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, 2008.

This booklet has a short section on ‘Managing personal information in the workplace’.  It gives examples of some of the benefits of disclosing information about mental ill-health and how to approach this. 

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Support at work when you have a mental health problem

 

Please note that we are unable to offer advice on individual cases. Please see our FAQ for advice on getting help.

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