Employment is key to removing ‘mental’ stigma

I was very disappointed by the tone of Tony Pettengell’s article on the lack of business case for recruiting staff with mental illnesses (Off Message, Personnel Today, 27 May).

This article reinforces the prejudice faced by people who have experienced mental ill-health. There is a failure to recognise that conditions such as anxiety, depression and schizophrenia are illnesses and not a ‘shortcoming’ as it suggests. People with these health conditions continue to suffer from high levels of stigma and discrimination resulting in social exclusion.

As an NHS trust providing mental health services in three London boroughs, one of our priorities is social inclusion. Employment is a vital element of this and we work closely with local employers to encourage them to employ people who have experienced mental ill-health.

To suggest that a person with a mental health problem might pose a risk to others is alarmist and inaccurate. Furthermore, the use of phrases such as “mental breakdown” serves to perpetuate the negative stereotype that people with mental health problems are unable to work.

Simon Hart

Director of HR and organisational development,

Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust

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