Bipolar disorder patients often face unemployment due to isolation and discrimination arising out of the stigma and negative stereotypes associated with mental illness at the workplace, according to a study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of California, Los Angeles. The findings revealed that such employees were left with no option but to disclose confidential information about their unstable mental condition to their colleagues and employers to get additional support and special accommodation. However, they complained that most of the times the outcomes were negative.
“Our findings suggest disclosure may risk job security,” said Lisa O’Donnell, study’s lead author who pursued her doctorate at University of Michigan’s School of Social Work at the time of the research. The intensive study, published recently in the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, consisted of examining the relationships between various workplace-based social stressors, such as conflict, rivalry, tension, work pressure and isolation, with each other, including stigmas. The target group comprised 129 participants in the age group of 47 to 51 from the Prechter Longitudinal Study of Bipolar Disorder. As a part of the research process, each of them was made to respond to questions surrounding workplace conflicts, isolation at office and stigma experienced due to prejudiced colleagues, social support received at work and their mood swings.
The researchers also observed that chronic symptoms of depression and conflict added to existing work-related impairments. Additionally, isolation at work often resulted in adverse consequences such as less support from co-workers. “The study findings highlight the importance of intervention at the right time to improve relationships between colleagues and managers,” said Joseph Himle, University of Michigan associate dean for research and professor of social work and psychiatry.
Dealing with mental health problems at workplace
Despite having numerous employee-friendly policies in place, multiple studies and surveys suggest that a vast majority of working class Americans nationwide felt that their levels of stress went up significantly to above average in the last one decade. It has in one way or the other impacted their professional life and work performance adversely.
Sadly, most people don’t consider psychiatric issues to be on par with other physical disorders such as diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, praying that their mental health would improve on its own. In such situations, a constant degeneration of mental health is evident, leaving little hope for recovery.
However, thanks to scientific advances, there is hope because most mental health problems can be treated with positive outcomes. What should be of importance is that employers should take worthwhile steps to eradicate the obstacles and stigma associated with seeking professional treatment or counseling and make sure that any confidential information disclosed by employees is dealt with in a non-judgmental way. Employers should understand that any taboo concerning mental health, particularly in the times of economic slowdown, could trigger fear of dismissal on health grounds.
At the same time, there are greater chances that mental health specialists may find themselves in unknown domains while treating or counseling patients on how to manage work-related challenges. So, employees themselves should be aware of the warning signs of a mental disorder. Moreover, employers should focus on introducing stress awareness and resilience-building programs to foster positivity and a healthy mind in their respective organizations.
Professional treatment is the key
Working with bipolar disorder can be extremely debilitating for employees as their minds are constantly fluctuating between high and low moods. In the case of a high mood, employees may appear energetic and enthusiastic but there could be a steady decline in actual productivity. If such mood disorders are ignored and left attended, they could cause immense damage to one’s physical as well as mental health, besides affecting career prospects and on-the-job performance. On the other hand, timely screening and necessary professional treatment can bring the much-needed relief and boost productivity at workplace.
If you or your loved one is battling bipolar disorder or any other mental health problem, get in touch with Sovereign Health to avail the latest treatment options at our treatment centers for bipolar disorder spread across the U.S. You may also call our 24/7 helpline or chat online to know about the most effective programs at our state-of-the-art residential treatment centers for bipolar disorder.