Should You Discuss Your Mental Health Challenges at Interview?

Should You Discuss Your Mental Health Challenges at Interview?

05/07/2019 Off By pauldrury

Simple answer: No

Why? Because (sadly) people will likely discriminate against you.

Maybe the title could read differently?

Should You BE ENCOURAGED TO Discuss Your Mental Health Challenges at Interview?

Yes. Absolutely. 100%.

We all have mental health challenges at various points in our lives. We might or might not acknowledge them, we might or might not take medication for them, and they might or might not affect how we go about our days. But we all have those moments where our brains aren’t quite doing what they should be doing.

Just to talk about myself for a minute, although I have never really investigated it, I might well be on the at the lower end of the autism spectrum (although that maybe isn’t classed as a mental health problem), I have experienced fleeting feelings of depression and anxiety in the past and I definitely feel slightly lonely every now and again. I have never taken a pill for anything like this, not even sleeping pills, but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t have classed myself as on the verge of getting “mentally ill” at certain tough points in life.

There have been a few.

However, I am fortunate that I count myself as pretty mentally “fit.”

Many people have significant mental health conditions that they do need help with. The illness of mental health is exactly that. An illness. There are treatments and there are ways of making life easier for many of those afflicted.

It starts with the understanding that someone who is struggling with an aspect of their mental health is not a zombie from another planet. The majority can work perfectly effectively, and while they are dealing with (and hopefully overcoming) their inner battles, they want to live as “normally” as possible.

Alongside potential medical interventions, they need support and understanding.

Talking about it with friends and colleagues who care often helps too.

So, why, when people walk into an interview and try to understand whether they would “fit” with a potential future employer, might they decide not to mention that they suffer from depression or they have PTSD (for example). Much that they would probably prefer it not to be, it is part of who they are, and should be viewed by any employer through an empathetic and caring lens.

“I have depression, and it affects me in certain ways, but I cope with it and actually it has given me a different perspective on life.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you felt able to say that in an interview (or in the office) in the knowledge that you would be judged and labelled a “nutcase.”

This taboo subject is not just avoided in interviews.

So many corporate types swagger around the office with an air of invincibility, loathe to reveal any weakness and thereby dissuading others from doing so. A fragile edifice of perfection with cracks that are ready to erupt at any moment….

I don’t profess to be an expert in this topic, but it won’t stop me exploring it every now and again. Some of what I have just written might be a little ignorant of the realities, but my message is a simple one:

If we are to build a more tolerant and understanding workplace, this has to be reflected in conversations at the interview when you are looking to attract the best people to your business. The “best” person might have a mental health challenge, but if they feel that their future employer will accept them as they are, they will be happy to talk about it a little.

Bringing “your whole self” to an interview is a great start to a fulfilling new career.

And that includes all the stuff that you wish you could hide (but can’t).

Mental health matters. Please spread the word.