Mentally Ill On The Job

Rob Lachenauer contrasts how large corporations and family-owned businesses treat workers with mental-health problems:

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prevents employers from discriminating against people who have a mental illness. But my experience as a consultant at a very large strategy firm whose clients are giant corporations had been that if someone admitted that he or she struggled with depression or mental illness, that would often be career suicide. Indeed, a former vice president of a major investment banking firm, when told about this blog, warned me against publishing it: “Clients are afraid to work with firms that have mentally ill people on the professional staff.”  …

I myself seldom heard people talk openly of depression in the workplace until I left the consulting firm where I’d worked to begin advising owners of leading family businesses. Much to my surprise, I found that these extremely successful family business owners don’t draw a sharp (and artificial) line between “us” and “them” – the mentally healthy and those less healthy. They don’t because they know they can’t. Those who suffer from mental illness are not anonymous shareholders, or nameless employees, but rather brothers, mothers, cousins, grandfathers, sons, and daughters. In family businesses, “they” are “us.”

Previous Dish on mental illness and employment here.