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Guest Blog: How Hiring Teams Can Fight the Stigma of Mental Illness

JazzHR

Guest blog by Jordan Corcoran – founder of mental-health advocacy organization Listen, Lucy

As a nationally recognized public speaker, author, mental health advocate, and business owner, I was shocked to find myself in an interview where a recruiter told me to take out any mention of mental illness on my resume because “no one wants to hire someone who may have a mental breakdown.”

I picked my jaw up off the floor and asked the man to elaborate. He explained that he had seen very qualified candidates get passed up for a lot less– sharing race, gender, names, and religion as reasons people were passed by.

My resume and accomplishments are two things I am very proud of. To be told that all of my hard-earned accolades may be ignored because a hiring manager may be too closed-minded or ignorant to understand that mental illness is not a setback was infuriating.

The stigma around mental health remains strong in the workplace and is causing people to fear for their jobs if they are “found out.” In reality, 1 in 4 people in the United States has a diagnosable mental illness. Let me say that again. Twenty-five percent of the population has a mental illness.

That being said, every company in the country is full of people that have the same issue as I do, a majority of them thriving and leading full lives but afraid of the repercussions if their employer finds out. 

Comments like the one this recruiter made to me are so damaging to the progress we are making around this conversation. No one should be judged for an illness they have. Inaccurate information being spread is keeping qualified, outstanding employees from advancing in their careers.

How can you make sure your business has a progressive, open-minded environment that supports its employees? SO glad you asked. Here are some things you can do. 

Educate yourself.

There are so many organizations, advocates, speakers, authors, celebrities, and literature that speak on this topic. Invest time in understanding the truth. Top resources:

Educate your management.

Make sure your hiring staff and your managing staff understand the facts about mental illness and mental health. Remind them of the importance of being objective. Top resources:

Educate your employees.

Host a mental health lunch and learn. Bring in a speaker. Create a memo that addresses this topic and let your employees know your stance and understanding of mental health. Top Resources:

Be approachable.

Listen and hear your employees when they speak. Ask questions during interviews and meetings if the topic comes up. Listen and process the answers. You will be blown away by the extraordinary things people are doing while enduring. 

Be kind.

We tend to think kindness is a weakness when dealing with business. I challenge you to show more kindness and encourage more kindness at work. It brings out the very best in people.

We have a long way to go in terms of ending the stigma surrounding mental health. My hope is that when reading this, you decide to make an effort, a change, an advancement to create a less judgemental, more accepting workplace and world.

For more information and resources about mental health and mental illness, visit www.ListenLucy.org.

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