Working and mental illness

I would like this post to be a bit of a discussion as I need some advice people! 

Now that I’m back home I’m starting to look for a job and what better way to get the ball rolling than by writing up a CV? Of course I’ve mentioned my travels because I haven’t been sat on my arse for the last few months, and I’ve put blog writing down as an interest of mine. 

But how far should I go? Do I mention that my blog is to spread mental health awareness and that it helped me to achieve a dream of mine? 

 
It’s a tough call. 
 

Let’s face it, many potential employers will be put off if they see that a candidate has a history of mental illness despite the fact that I am an excellent worker. I’ve never let my illness get in the way of my work or education yet the negative stigma against mental health says otherwise. 

At my last job I worked in a demanding sales environment which I enjoyed, but I didn’t initially tell my employer that I had any of my own issues because I didn’t want the judgement. I hate to say it but I worked in a male dominated office and I would have felt humiliated and even worse, ashamed, if any of my colleagues had found out. I just felt like they wouldn’t understand or take it seriously. 

In my second year of working there I needed to get some more therapy (nothing to do with my job, I just had a lot of derealisation). The problem was my therapist finished work at 5pm so I would need to be with her at 4pm midweek for 6 weeks. So I had to grow some serious balls, sit down with my boss and explain why I would need to leave early once a week for the next month and a half. 

I was very nervous before that conversation but in the end it was a breeze because he was so understanding and actually it really created a friendship between my boss and I, so I was more open with what I was going through in future. He would always check in on me in our weekly 1-2-1s asking, “So how are you?”

I actually remember one time he said, “Of all the people who come crying to me at work, I always expect it to be you. But it never is.” That’s saying something and it really meant a lot to me. 

Maybe I’ve just been lucky, I can’t expect everyone to be so understanding. But I do believe that my mental health should never prevent me from getting a job that I would excel in. So why should I hide it? Even the point of this blog was to do my part against the negative stigma and spread awareness so I should be setting an example, there is no need to be ashamed. And if it does put a potential employer off would I really want to work with them in the first place?

So guys what should I do? 

A – shall I not mention the blog at all?

B – shall I mention just that I blog? But then how do I handle further questions down the line? 

C – shall I mention the blog is about creating mental health awareness in my CV? 

I would really like to hear back from you, especially if you have a strong opinion on this subject so let me know what you think by commenting on the blog or messaging me. 

Thanks guys! 

4 Comments »

  1. Hi Anna, here’s a few thoughts from me. Will try to keep it brief! I think I would probably go for option B.

    My own experience has taught me that it’s possible to get the balance right between the absolute terror of revealing anything whatsoever and opening the floodgates and divulge all one’s private history! Last year I stopped freelancing and found myself in the position of applying for a part time civil service job (PT so I could fit in some therapy). After many years of managing my own diary and never needing to account for what I did in my non-working time, I now felt obliged to my amazing boss, who fought so hard to get me an unheard-of PT role, to at least try to explain why part time hours were so important for to me. I also, for the first time in many, many years, faced completing a compulsory medical questionnaire – yikes. As it turned out, this proved to be less of an ordeal than I feared, as the main thrust of it was not to expose all details of any mental health condition, but rather to ask whether it was under control and whether it had ever affected my work – my answers to these questions were a resounding ‘yes ‘ and ‘no’ respectively , and that’s honestly as far as it went. I was actually quite impressed that the civil service were able to trust me when I stated that I had everything under control – so I got my PT time contract, and on the highest possible pay scale 🙂

    Naturally, though, my lovely boss and team-mates wanted to know what I was doing on my days off. After much deliberation I decided to be truthful – and to my surprise they all just took it in their stride, and were actually interested in the type of therapy I was doing, what I thought of it, and so on.

    Having been an incredibly private person thus far, and in many ways so influenced by the old-fashioned stigmatising concept of mental health issues, I honestly felt a real sense of freedom in terms of being able to say just a little bit about what I was doing and how I felt.

    So I guess my view is that being honest upfront to a degree was a lot easier and better than I ever expected it to be. I didn’t reveal huge amounts up front, so didn’t feel I was putting my whole self on the line, but I said enough to be able to see how people responded. As you yourself have found, when you have opened up it’s often amazing how great people are. I do honestly think the tide is turning in terms of acceptance of mental health, so don’t hide it totally – but equally nor should you, I believe, go into too much detail, especially in a CV. when you can’t tell what people’s reactions will be. Later when you are able to have a f2f conversation you will be able to judge how much detail you want to into, and if they are already looking critical then you know they’re not the right people to work for anyway!

    Hope that helps a bit – and lots of good luck with the next stage of your career 🙂

    Sarah

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sarah! I will agree with you as well after thinking about the subject for a while I feel that people are less likely to run a mile if they’ve met me in person or had a chance to speak to me. On the flip side, as you said, if I’ve met a person I will be able to judge their character better and so how open I should be!

      Thanks for getting in touch 🙂

      Like

  2. Hey there! I’d say leave the blog off or just mention that you have a blog as an interest. At this point, I have been on leave 5 times from my job for mental illness, so everyone knows how much I struggle. That said, I like to keep my blog to myself, with the understanding it’s the internet and anyone can see it. I just don’t want to actively let my work know about it – not that there is anything that would get me fired or what have you, but I just don’t want it widely known to them, if that makes sense. I know everything you’re saying about the stigma, etc. I’ve struggled with it immensely myself, and that is where I’ve decided to be open about everything, but not identify with it too much. I don’t want that to be first impression or a big talking point. It is a fact, it is something I live with, but it’s not me. That distinction is so difficult for people without mental illness to grasp, so I prefer it to be a conversation versus something that comes up on a CV.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey thanks for commenting! Having thought about it I have left the details of the blog off my cv, as you said I don’t want MH to be the first thing people think about me, rather something to understand once you get to know me. And unfortunately if I did have it on my cv it’s likely I’ll get overlooked for a role because of it.

      Liked by 2 people

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