An online poll of more than 2,000 adults says only 35% of people would be open with their employer if they received a diagnosis of schizophrenia. The research, published by charity Rethink Mental Illness, also says one in four people wouldn’t tell their friends and 77% wouldn’t tell a neighbour.
The information has been released during Schizophrenia Awareness Week (11-17 November), to help raise awareness about the condition.
Jazmin Chatelier was 22 when she started to suffer from schizophrenia. At first she heard voices chatting in the distance, but soon they started talking directly to her. When she told people about her condition, their reactions were difficult to take – with some calling her an attention seeker and others thinking she was making it up.
Her symptoms, while at times frightening, are rarely debilitating and she is able to work. When Jazmin got her first job in retail after university, she made the tough decision (after a year of employment) to tell them about her illness.
Jazmin says their exact words were: ‘You are not well enough to do this.’
This experience has made Jazmin question whether or not she would be as open with future employers. Rethink Mental Illness is now calling for businesses to do more to stop discrimination.
“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.” – Rachel Hobbs, from Rethink Mental Illness.
While safety at work has been improved year on year over the last 20 years, for many employers health (and especially mental health) remain poorly addressed. These statistics are hoped to prompt further action by employers to increase awareness and reduce discrimination about conditions such as schizophrenia.