In other words, if you have a temperature or are vomiting, that's obvious. Many infections or physical injury can be trivially verified by a doctor. But a "sanity day", as truthful and necessary as it might be, is neither of those.
Out of curiosity, I checked my current employment contract. It says sick leave is for "A personal illness, injury or medical disability that prevents the employee from performing his or her job, or personal medical or dental appointments." or "Exposure of the employee to contagious disease when attendance at work would jeopardize the health of others." There's a dozen or so other cases listed in the contract, mostly about allowing sick leave to care for sick family members/children. Our contract also allows for verification, "If the Employer suspects abuse, the Employer may require a written medical certificate for any sick leave absence."
I've never heard of anyone here being asked for a verification, but it would tend to discourage people doing the "sanity day" sort of thing.
I suspect that the lack of trust this indicates on the part of the company (not to mention foster on the part of the employee) is probably a sign that you're past the point of no return. I suspect a company that asked for verification was not doing so to see if you were genuinely ill, they're doing so because it's already a problem and they want a nice paper trail for when they terminate you. Of course if you are abusing it, I think that's totally reasonable.
But I think most of my employers (except for one, where I quit for exactly this kind of disrespect) would have had no problem with me saying, "hey I just need a mental break day in order to keep doing this job - I'm taking one of my sick days". If one significantly exceeds allocated sick days, then the reason starts mattering more.
Get into hourly low wage stuff and you are treated like children, many shops require a doctor's note for any and all absences with 1 or 2 dermits until you're fired.
This has reasons from both ends of course. When I was younger I saw the need for this sort of policy or you'd get eaten alive by the low-wage masses abusing it (and abuse it they did). But on the flip-side, these policies tend to simply be abused by management once enacted - with no leeway for people to be human.
In the white collar arena it's pretty damn trivial as a manager to tell who is abusing a PTO policy and who isn't, so only the shittiest of companies enact such policies. Managerial laziness is definitely creeping into this area of life as well too though.
My go-to story: Friend in Japan's train route was significantly delayed by a suicide. Rather than sit in the train station for ~2 hours waiting for cleanup, he leaves, gets on his motorcycle, and rides to work. Shows up 30 minutes late, but his pay is docked those 30 minutes, because unlike everyone else that showed up 2 hours later, he didn't have the little ticket they give you in Japan when your train is delayed. Regardless of him telling HR the situation, showing his house on the train route, etc, nope, he didn't have the slip from mommy, so his pay got docked.
I love working there, but the work culture is infuriating.
Also Japan is just about the most photographical country I've ever been to.
That kind of tradition means a lot more to Japan society than it does for some Western countries, I suppose. You can search for articles on "Japanese corporate bureaucracy" for different perspectives.
Not advocating treating people like shit for missing work once in awhile, just sayin'.
This feeds directly into the popular narrative that the working poor somehow lack moral fortitude. Do you have evidence to justify this claim?
Only 5 years ago I was working hourly just above minimum wage in a job I disliked. The management had a very strict tardiness and absence policy, and a strike system that meant if were absent without proper excuse more than 2 times in a 3 month period you were terminated.
I didn't exactly have a traditional support system while I had that job. Lived with some friends, but couldn't reach out to family or the like for help. That's how most people were at that job. Independent, but broke. Still though, the job was miserable. I think of myself as a work-loving sort of guy but I dreaded every day of it. So we all were absolutely looking for any way to get out a day. Even if it meant we didn't have a 40 hour paycheck, when you loathe your job it just doesn't matter. Maybe you'll not eat lunch or dinner for a couple of days - but at least you'll be free.
I used my hatred of that job to propel me into something more. A lot of people in those positions are held down by other forces which did not affect me. I hope they can find their own ways out someday.
I don't think people like that lack moral fortitude. Going to work is not inherently morally righteous. Nor is a perfect attendance record. But, in my experience, people who have bad jobs that they dislike will game whatever systems are available to get as much time away from them as possible - even if it hurts their financial bottom line pretty badly.
Absolutely mirrors my experience to a T. I wasn't intending to put a moral stance on any of this, but you did a much better job at explaining that.
When I was working minimum wage there was also the working poor: they needed every penny. If they called in sick you knew they were sick. If you asked them to work overtime they did their best to take it because the extra money was needed (they often couldn't find a sitter on short notice though). They didn't stay in minimum wage for long, their efforts were noticed and they were offered promotions to management (not all accepted because management often meant moving away from family, but in that case they still got maximum raises until they reached the top of the pay scale).
Note that many of the working poor got themselves into that position because of their choices, generally they had a kid at 16 and dropped out of school as a result (at best finished at the bottom of their class). They were failing to dig themselves out of the hole of their bad life choices because that kid takes the time needed to get a better education. In short they lack moral fortitude in that they were (and are...) sleeping around, but not in that they are not working hard for their employer.
The vast majority of teenage mothers in the United States do not choose to get pregnant and do not have the choice of terminating their pregnancy. They either do not have access to abortion providers - the majority of women in the United States do not have access to abortion clinics because of fundamentalist Christian activists and politicians: https://www.guttmacher.org/united-states/abortion/state-poli... - or they are coerced by their fundamentalist Christian parents into not having an abortion.
Teenagers around the US do not as a rule have convenient access to contraceptive pills. That's because the FDA refuses to approve them for OTC sale, despite their safety relative to many other OTC meds. The stated reason for refusing OTC sales is that allowing them would prevent women from seeing their doctors for other medical issues (this is also the reason you can't buy extremely useful and safe meds like Ondansetron OTC). I feel like I'm on firm ground when I add that this is unlikely to be the only reason you can't buy OTC contraceptive pills.
Meanwhile, about half of US states require parental consent for most minors before doctors can issue prescriptions for birth control.
As a fun additional wrinkle, churches, and in particular the Catholic church, run some of the largest hospital and health chains in US metro areas. Church-run hospitals routinely refuse to provide access to contraceptive services. In Chicago, the Loyola health system --- an otherwise well-regarded health services chain! --- won't prescribe contraceptive pills to adults even for non-contraceptive reproductive health purposes!
I don't think we need to spend too much time talking about Planned Parenthood clinics; the issues there are obvious to anyone familiar with the state of reproductive health in the US.
So, no, I don't think it's reasonable to argue that any teenaged girl in the US should be expected to be fully armed with all the tools of modern contraception.
You're also giving teenagers a pass for having unprotected sex as if they don't know there's a risk of 1) getting pregnant and 2) getting an STD.
Certainly some birth control measures are less accessible to teenagers, but what I'm arguing is the parent's claim that "The vast majority of teenage mothers in the United States do not choose to get pregnant"
That's not accurate unless what is meant is that "the vast majority of teenage mothers don't want to get pregnant (but choose to forego readily available birth control / condoms)". I'd believe that.
It's common knowledge how reproduction works. You have condoms, birth control pills and copper rings among other options.
That's simply not a reasonable argument. Don't move the goalposts now.
If you don't use a condom no matter what age you are and get an STD - same thing - that's on you too.
Your argument about post-conception options - I agree that not everyone has the same access. But I'm not talking about that.
Condoms work. Teenagers know the risk. They're just being dumb and it's on them.
Now - your argument that making birth control more available - sure I think that's a good thing too. But the notion that "the vast majority of teenage mothers in the United States do not choose to get pregnant" is irresponsible because almost all of them got pregnant by being wreckless while viable options are readily available. Specifically condoms.
(The comment I just replied to was edited extensively after I replied to it. That's OK; I said what I wanted to say.)
Under those circumstances, it's not surprising that teenagers have sex, don't know how to do so safely, and end up pregnant without meaning to. That is: a teenager absolutely can choose to have sex without choosing to get pregnant, simply because the society around them has conspired to make sure they don't understand how one leads to the other.
It's strategic: prevent women from accessing the tools and knowledge to keep themselves safe, then justify denying them rights "to keep them safe."
Things could be better, of course, and that's worth talking about, but your argument has turned into a caricature.
You also have minimal->zero private money and come from a poor background so it's too expensive. Your parents are religious and it's difficult to privately have & use birth control. Copper IUDs create pretty bad periods and are more painful to insert if you never given birth. Giving yourself a megadose of hormones with other implants is pretty freaky.
But your 16 years old and have a lot of hormones...
That is part of the reason why the entire obamacare free birth control fight was pretty emotional in the USA.
Wouldn't you rather call it the failure of a community - a society - to prepare its new members to the complexities of life?
Oh but it's easy to climb up the high horse, brandish the sword of Morals and throw the erring off the tower (incidentally, it's the same ISIS does to its own "deviants")
Religion comes into play because the lobby against making birth control available to teenagers is also the lobby against abortion clinics (and any clinics that offer health services and birth control to teenagers) is also the lobby to teach abstinence in schools (or not teach sex ed. at all), and that lobby gets most of its funding from religious organizations.
So, the slightly awkward week in sixth grade where my teacher gave us anatomy lessons and a birth video is something my daughter didn't get to experience, even though I brought my family back to my hometown. Instead, she gets the even more wonderfully awkward talk from her parents, which my wife likes to paraphrase as "your mouth won't get pregnant" (thanks Bill Clinton).
Teen pregnancy is not currently a common issue (it has been declining since 1990), but that doesn't mean it won't start going back up if we continue making it more difficult for young women (and men) to have access to birth control and education about safe sex.
We even had some discussion in school about how to reduce the risks of experimenting with drugs, though I don't think many people followed those directions.
Religion never worked great, but it was all they had.
You are looking at a problem with a simple and well-understood solution, and instead of talking about implementation you're going "Tsk, tsk, it's their own fault for being stupid." So, yes, you're absolutely moralizing.
> it's not some arbitrary religious code.
Giving teenagers worthless abstinence education instead of proven sex ed is the definition of an arbitrary religious code.
I carefully avoided passing a moral judgement on their acts. However the fact is sex at 16 immediately jumps into moral issues (not just Christian - most world religions encourage marriage). I did my best those to focus on the fact that as a result of that choice they have eliminated their ability to get a head.
YOU are the one placing moral judgement on their choices and trying to make it look like my judgement.
I don't buy for a second that being sexually active as a teenager somehow equates to lack of moral fortitude.
There's plenty of teenagers that are aware of birth control and use it appropriately. Do they lack moral fortitude, too?
Or put it another way, you cannot talk about kids having sex without everybody bringing their own different morals up. The two are very intertwined.
I never looked at it as pure spending money - it was mostly saving for an education and a start in my adult life. Might be why I'm one of the few of my generation that doesn't think the entire economy is stacked against them?
Edit:I did say _anyone_ in the past 20 years so that is some unfortunate hyperbole on my part
This doesn't make a lot of conceptual sense. If 100,000 people move into a town of formerly-3000, they will severely outnumber the open job slots from before they moved in, but that doesn't mean no work is available for any of them. Most of them will find work just as most people everywhere find work.
Work is available to anyone who can do something productive.
Some US based acquaintances recently discussed the college options and choices of their kids.
A year at the cheapest college they discussed cost more than twice (tuition, without a room) as much as my German B.Sc. and M.Sc. combined: that is, 5 years of study (or longer - I decided to study part-time and earn real money in parallel. It costs little extra).
NOPE. More like they feel abused by society, so they rightfully abuse it back by taking as much as they can and giving as little as possible. Of course, the result is a vicious cycle they can't get out of: if you play the lazy parasite once, you do get some kind of "abuse" back (even if it's just passive-aggressive attitude from colleagues) even if you mostly get away with it and as we're all wired up to do you then have to "retaliate".
Of course, people who don't have a history of being abused by the system, eg. people who've had good managers, don't feel the need to abuse the system themselves, so no problem here.
And breaking an established cycle requires a great manager (hint: probably the one you're not going to hire, because it makes more business sense to spend more on legal, accounting, or even a developer...), assuming not very stubborn employees and no underlying mental issues.
Most socio econ systems fail because some people feel abused and abuse the system back. Abuse your workers well enough an you get, surprise, communism, when they abuse you back. Circle of life and all that shit...
(And don't get me wrong, I think it's good that a sizable percent of population is pre-programmed to "abuse-back", this prevents us being turned into a mindless remote controlled flock of sheeple... And I kind of think lighter collar "information jobs" people should learn a thing or two from the abuse-back attitude of blue collars because nowadays they tend to be sheepified too, and some "abuse-back feedback" would help the system!)
The poor have much less leeway in their lives. Sometimes, they need to choose between 'abusing the system' or e.g. dealing with a family emergency. Say your car broke down and you need to get it fixed. Do you call in sick and get it done or do you bus it until you get some free time when the mechanics are working?
What I've seen is that in the jobs filled by younger people with little skills on the worker side and near-exploitative conduct on the employer side, was a) a rather shallow loss function ("what if I lose this job? I'm underpaid, it's a dead-end, and I can easily get another job like this", that they often still live in their parents' basement exacerbates that effect) and b) a feeling of justification for these actions ("They exploit me, I'll exploit them back").
And those weren't simply rationalizations, so I'm not sure if it's a matter of moral fortitude or lack thereof, just of a different set of morals that (are understood to) underlie that type of job. There was a strong sense of moral in the people I worked with, just along other axes (eg. stronger loyalty between peers, but much weaker up and down the hierarchy).
Not really. Not every bad job is held by an oppressed proletariat. Many times they're held by mischievous PFYs who still think they're immortal and that $20 is a lot of money. Youthful indiscretions are one the most common sources of this type of behavior. It's extremely common to not have a professional attitude in your "first real job", or to not even consider most minimum wage jobs as a "real job". There's an entire genre of movies that relies on this culture. Slacker culture has been part of pop culture for decades, now. When you don't have any actual responsibilities it's pretty common to treat any new ones like a big joke, or as "suggestions".
And it doesn't just happen at work - there are people with extremely cavalier attitudes towards education. I had a conversation with my kid about other kids getting around attendance rules in high school by showing up to class and then "going to the bathroom" and not returning to class again. Skipping class to go smoke, race, shop, etc has been a thing for at least 50 years. It's kind of telling, though, that most slacker movies were about college-age (or younger) kids. Ones for adults (e.g. Office Space) are pretty rare and rather niche.
It's important that we recognize that professionalism is not a natural (or an exclusive) trait. Babies don't pop out of the womb screaming "Please advise." The teenage years are full of people pushing boundaries to learn how they fit into society. We expect mistakes at that age, and those expectations are frequently met.
I've literally met hundreds of people who blew off classes because they weren't the ones paying for it, or who called in sick after a hangover or because they didn't like their job. I've stood around at parties listening to people tell stories of how they ditched work. I had a co-worker call in sick because he "couldn't get his car out of the garage." And having six dead grandmothers in a year is a trope now. It's not everyone, for sure, but it happens. It's just that people do it less with the jobs that they value in the careers they've invested into.
That said, we do need a lot of labor reforms around hours worked, employee rights and privacy, cost of living adjustments, etc. And we need better safety nets for citizens. But those will always extend far more slowly to a job that can be filled by 90% of the population. The supply of entry-level workers far outstrips the demand.
> This feeds directly into the popular narrative that the working poor somehow lack moral fortitude. Do you have evidence to justify this claim?
I wouldn't be surprised if it's far more common among low-wage-job-holders that aren't poor, actually.
And I'd like him to elaborate on those, rather than make a broad generalization. Thanks.
It only takes a few people abusing this before it becomes a problem. At the same time, those who lack moral fortitude are more likely to have low-wage jobs because those are the only ones they can hold down.
So, the shitty people end up over-represented at the low-end of the job market, so those jobs need to consider them more.
Sure, I worked a lot of retail/physical labor/etc. type jobs in my younger years. I was out of the house at an early age, and took these jobs very seriously since they paid my bills. My co-workers for many reasons did not, at least a very significant minority of them.
I don't think it's really "out there" to say that the typical minimum wage worker is not as high quality as the guy 4 years in making $20/hr. That is reflected in their pay, after all. The folks I worked with were either generally reliable and usually job hopped quite a bit every 6-12mo for raises, or they were just workers who barely had enough value to not get fired. The latter were more common, in my experience. Despite what you hear on HN and elsewhere - there are a significant number of people who have zero interest in working, and only do so to pay bills. If they could sit at home all day doing nothing, they absolutely would. Working with them is not fun, and until I found the whole computer/on-line community thing (in the early 90's) I felt extremely alone spending most of my day with those types that had zero ambition to improve their lot in life.
And I think it's more of a "masses" problem - not necessarily class based. Maybe investment based. You likely don't really care much about your $7/hr job, at least a significant portion of people do not. That same is not as true for the $100/hr job. It's simply a filter.
You see the same issues in other "body shop" style white collar offices too. Even relatively highly paid folks like insurance call center workers have to be treated like children, or you'd have half the office call out on a friday before a long weekend. Been there, done that as well. I imagine Infosys and similar companies have policies that look very similar to someone like Walmart.
I'm obviously having trouble describing my thoughts here - but in the end I'd say it's something like professional careerists vs. a just a job. The latter there is very little skin in the game for the average employee comparatively - and those that have that motivation generally don't stay in that socioeconomic class very long. You see the same effects in any space open to various segments of the public. The higher your admission fee the less you have to pay for people destroying things. More skin in the game.
Edit: I think it's important to state these are generalities. The actual working poor tend to be by far the hardest working most reliable folks out there. If they had issues making it to work - it was usually something huge in their lives. The thing is though? These folks typically got promoted or much better paying jobs elsewhere, so it's again a self-selection thing. Sort of like stack ranking your employees and only the lower 50% get to stay in your company.
One other thing, is that minimum-wage jobs are often (not always) filled with entry-level workers. These are people who have never had a regular job. They don't know, or may have unrealistic ideas about the importance of being on time, showing up when scheduled, not taking random time off with short notice, etc. So policies are strict because many workers need to be "trained" about what to expect.
This effect extends thru the entire economy.
From observation its not that people who are poor have no ambition, they just have ambition in areas not involving getting lots of money from work or "reward" from management recognition. They want a happy family life, sex, be cool, get drunk often, ambition in all manner of things, just not into working 10x harder for 2x more money. I probably work 100x harder mentally than when I was a high school kid working at a supermarket and I barely make 10x as much money. For me working 100x harder is not a big deal because supermarket work is not exactly rocket surgery, but I can see a lower ability normie not seeing 100x harder work as achievable without excessive stress for them at their performance level, or perhaps being impossible for them. The "sit at home" under a UBI scenario seems incredibly unlikely. You might not agree with or appreciate the effort of "being cool" or posting high score posts on facebook or obtaining sex, but they will certainly sweat a lot of effort into achieving it. Playing video games is not very profitable but it is somewhat ambitious and takes a lot of effort.
To some extent a marketplace that doesn't meet the participants needs is a failure of that marketplace, which describes a lot of our labor system for a very large fraction of the population. Its not really their fault the system is irrelevant to their interests.
Eh, probably not. Some companies do it to everybody especially when they have an employee that they want to get rid of, but is in a 'protected class'. This so they can show HR and the unemployment commission they treat everyone equally and fairly. Unfortunately this leads to the average employee that does their job feeling they are being treated unfairly. The larger a company gets, and the more surface area the company is exposed to lawsuit abuse to, the more commonly these rules are applied to all people in an unfair manner.
Basically, you're right. The verification thing is invoked to provide convenient evidence to get rid of someone they already want to get rid of.
Trust only goes so far. If a company does not have good cost control and verification procedures, they can and will get robbed blind. Heck, the cash register was invented by a bar owner who suspected the bartender was embezzling in a blatant and ruinous fashion.
Why does it even matter why they take the time off?
Make a stupid policy, get a rational response from employees.
There are plenty employers who are willing to accommodate you if you have an actual DSM-diagnosed mental disorder but are skeptical of a "sanity day".
Likewise, there are plenty of employers who will let you take time off if you're actually chucking mucus across the room. But what if I just suspect my immune system is a bit weak from the long hours I've been pulling, and that going into work today is likely to trigger a cold? Or what if, in order to keep up with work, I've been drinking 8 cups of coffee a day and eating nothing but microwave meals because I don't have time to figure out healthier options? Technically, nothing prevents me from performing my job. It doesn't require a doctor's appointment, nor is there some illness that's easily verifiable. I'm not broken yet. I just have a hunch I'm breaking down.
And then there are a whole host of issues that might not qualify as "health issues" but are things I need time to deal with if you want me to function at my best later: childcare, DMV appointments, legal issues, car repair, etc.
There's absolutely something preventing me from doing my job on those days, by the simple expedient that I don't feel like doing it that day. If that doesn't happen more often than I have sick days, I don't see the issue.
Though I do agree, that there's stigma towards taking it for personal sanity, mind healing.
At my job we get PTO and holidays (floating depending on the year), but no specific sick days.
Apologies for any naivete.
When I was at Yahoo, we had unlimited sick days (and my manager aggressively enforced that), but after this law passed they asked us to mark any sick days we took off to comply (still unlimited, but somewhat tracked).
You might try to make a distinction between contagious and non-contagious diseases, but it'd probably be unwise as often people don't know if they are contagious or not, and anyway encouraging healing isn't a terrible idea even if they aren't.
That said, you shouldn't be cheap on the vacation days either.
Why limit the amount of days your allowed to be sick? What happens if you are sick for more days than what your contract allows?
I would think that a finite amount of sick days will have the opposite effect of what you are describing. People will come to work even when they're sick, just in case they get even more sick later in the year. Except for the end of December of course, can let those unused sick days go to waste!
The number of days you are allowed to be sick is not limited; the number of days of paid leave to deal with being sick is limited.
> What happens if you are sick for more days than what your contract allows?
Depending on the nature of the illness and other factors, you may be eligible for unpaid (by the employer), job-protected leave under FMLA or similar state laws, and may be eligible for disability payments during that leave under state law. The employer may, even if that law does not apply, extend paid or unpaid leave beyond what it is committed to in your contract, but is under no obligation to do so.
They threaten to fire you for taking too much sick time, and they don't pay you for the additional days. They complain that you aren't reliable enough and that they need someone who is reliable.
It is nice to never actually need to provide a reason/note to be out, but I think the combination does stress some of my coworkers (e.g. "I don't want to take vacation because what if I get sick", "Oh great, I'm sick, now I can't take vacation").
We have 6 holidays + 1 floating that we can use, and they don't roll over from year to year.
Why wouldn't they be? I assume they're mandatory in most countries.
Sickness is just part of the cost of doing business with people, not robots.
So in US employers just whip sickly people into coming to work or how does that line of reasoning work?
You shouldn't feel guilty at all. They should feel guilty for making you need to take that day off.
Your workplace should be a refuge, where you charge your batteries and build sanity. Not a constant drain on those resources.
That's a refreshing perspective, I haven't thought about it like this. Indeed, when you're solving tough problems, you'd better concentrate at the private office (which is nowhere to be found, so work from home it is), and the workplace is the place where you go to discuss your difficulties with colleagues to broaden your perspective, and ask senior ones for practical advice. Makes perfect sense.
My co-founder was relentless in applying guilt and pressure while I vomited for years for weeks at a time - multiple hospitalisations due to severe dehydration. He denies that mental health is even a thing.
So - it's not just an employee thing - even business owners can be severely impacted by uncaring colleagues.
A year out of work and I haven't puked in eight months.
My work requires a medical certificate for certain situations. No exceptions.
Sometimes it's easier for me to simply turn up to work sick for a day, than try and get a cert.
I'd feel worse about doing this, but I am pretty sure other people do this too.
And it's an open plan office of course, so diseases just spread through the office.
You should simply get a large pool of personal leave that accrues and you can take it when you need to.
Good luck mate!
I am happy to report I left that position after 13 months, but consider the plight of the skilled tradesmen who work under those conditions and do physical labor. I was just sitting at a desk programming.
Well that and even the bosses are ready to acknowledge that the job people are paid to do sucks at least sometimes. Many industries and businesses pretend that that's not the case.
Mental illness does not have to be severe just as physical illness does not have to be severe.
Sick leave policies typically only require a doctors note/visit if you are absent for multiple days.
Taking a single day off for mild mental illness, something like elevated stress levels causing anxiety that interrupts your sleep, seems perfectly consistent with most of the corporate sick leave policies I have read.
First, "sick days" generally are a policy for handling acute disorders; e.g. last week I didn't have disease X, today I do, and next week I'll be healthy again. You can't "wait out" a mental disease; taking a day or two off may reduce elevated stress levels but that is not the disease, the underlying problems aren't going to be solved when you come back.
The second issue is that many common physical issues are contagious, and there's a strong benefit for the employer and the society for sick people to "quarantine" themselves instead of going to offices and infecting coworkers and customers.
Mental diseases generally all are chronic and not contagious, and so they're similar in workplace (mis)treatment to things like arthritis or diabetes complications; things that don't map neatly to "x days to get cured" but instead need ongoing maintenance and unscheduled downtime forever.
In the UK time off to manage a long term condition could be justified as a "reasonable adjustment" under the equality act.
I am a proponent of taking time off for mental health, but I have to nitpick here. Medically speaking, physical illness is different from mental illness. One is diagnosed from objective scientific tests (pathology) while the other is not.
 Source: medical school. Not finding a study with exact numbers from a quick search.
There are objective tests for all of these pathologies, though those tests are often inconclusive in the face of the symptoms.
>If you don't think there's a physical basis for mental illnesses though, skim through the figures in this article for a prime example of the ways modern medicine is disproving that.
There are physical symptoms of mental illness, but as yet there is no proof of physical causes, which is why the chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine and the DSM-4 stated "psychiatric diagnosis still relies exclusively on fallible subjective judgments rather than objective biological tests". You'll find no objective biological tests in the DSM.
Nothing good, sadly.
My wife was in banking for twelve years and worked her way up from a teller to a fairly senior position. Her work ethic was spectacular - she had just two sick days in the previous five years and she was promoted almost yearly, always receiving an excellent review.
A few years ago, she went from having occasional discomfort to waking with fairly severe pain daily. It got so bad that she had to take time off, and eventually took FMLA for a full twelve weeks to see if it would help. It didn't and she was fired soon after.
She filed for disability after being diagnosed with Fybromyalgia. Our lawyer sent her to bother specialist doctors and independent testing labs to get complete documentation. They had her complete various tasks like screwing in a screwdriver, raising a weight above her head for X seconds etc. and then asked her to rate her pain levels and other self-reported things.
In the end, she was denied for disability, mostly because disability is no longer about actually being disabled - it's now about essentially filling the gap between welfare and medicaid. In the written opinion however, the stated reason was that all the evidence was self-reported, implying she could be making it all up (because who wouldn't want to give up a successful and lucrative career for some minimal-level disability payments).
Anyway, I learned two main things:
1. There are no commonly accepted objective tests for pain - it's almost all self-reporting.
2. The disability system in the US is heavily used as supplemental welfare.
No, objective tests are in these cases used to exclude other causes to the symptoms, not to diagnose the mentioned illnesses. These are diagnoses of exclusion.
> There are physical symptoms of mental illness, but as yet there is no proof of physical causes, which is why the chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine and the DSM-4 stated "psychiatric diagnosis still relies exclusively on fallible subjective judgments rather than objective biological tests". You'll find no objective biological tests in the DSM.
I'm not disputing the fact that it's not possible to do pathophysiological tests for mental illnesses in current clinical practice, but you're creating a false equivalence by implying that being unable to test for a pathophysiological factor is the same as that factor not existing. There are plenty of pathophysiological changes that occur in mental illnesses [2-4], but for obvious reasons it's not feasible to haphazardly take biopsies of the brain to test for them, especially when the patient history and subjective examinations suffice to make a diagnosis in most cases.
Conversely, my point still stands that the vast majority of somatic illnesses are diagnosed off subjective symptoms - doctors don't bother doing objective lab tests for a cold or a sprained ankle when the diagnosis is glaringly obvious based off subjective symptoms.
It is feasible post mortem but scientists still have no conslusive proof from such examinations.
>Conversely, my point still stands that the vast majority of somatic illnesses are diagnosed off subjective symptoms - doctors don't bother doing objective lab tests for a cold or a sprained ankle when the diagnosis is glaringly obvious based off subjective symptoms.
That is not in dispute because a cold and sprained ankle are objectively diagnosable post mortem. Mental illness is not.
Oh, and you kind of can diagnose certain mental illnesses post mortem: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181616/
No ones knows for sure because no one can objectively explain the nature of consciousness and the mind in the first place. That is of course not to say that chemicals do not have a strong influence on the mind.
>Oh, and you kind of can diagnose certain mental illnesses post mortem: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181616/
The study has no control group and therefore is not objective. If you read the Methodological Issues section, you'll see that this is essentially a study of the neurochemical effects of antipsychotic drugs.
True, but I'm still waiting for a single proposal as to where a mental illness would subside other than physical structures/molecules, because the only other explanation I can think of are in the realm of the metaphysical
> The study has no control group and therefore is not objective. If you read the Methodological Issues section, you'll see that this is essentially a study of the neurochemical effects of antipsychotic drugs.
The article isn't a study/original research, it's a review based off of existing research - generally - in which brains from individuals with schizophrenia are compared to the brains of individuals without schizophrenia (controls). Antipsychotic drugs as a confounding factor is definitely an important factor in these studies though. There are however a number of factors that are are not affected by antipsychotics, notably genetics[1, 2]. Certain genetic variants strongly increase the risk of mental illnesses - by what mechanism does this work other than by translating to proteins that exert an objective, physical effect? (Note that studies on this are primarily GWAS based on large populations, not simple hereditary/familial studies in which one could argue that environmental factors were confounding)
Isn't this just because we don't actually understand medical illnesses nearly as well as we understand physical ones in general? I don't we actually know that there is anything innate about mental illness that makes it different from physical illness in this sense. That being the case, mental illnesses are just like those physical illnesses that we have yet to understand as well no?
Please correct me if I'm misinformed as this is a topic that I am very interested in.
These tests take a measurement and based on peer-reviewed statistical studies make a determination as to whether or not the measurement falls into a pathological range.
This is exactly the same as measuring blood pressure or cholesterol. You read a number and decide if there is a statistically valid correlation between that number and an identified disease.
Subjective: based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.
Objective: (of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.
What is the difference between being schizophrenic and having the "opinion" that Satan speaks to you through your neighbor's cat?
Mental illness is defined by what a person feels and believes.
What you feel and believe is subjective but you can objectively establish that a particular cluster of subjective feelings and beliefs is abnormal vis-a-vis a populate.
Then when you ask people the same questions and their cluster of responses fits the abnormal definition you can objectively say that they have a mental illness.
The objectivity does not come from the doctor observations or patient self-survey, it comes from the study that created the questions and proved that a certain score or cluster of responses is statistically abnormal.
Honestly, a lot of the time it comes down to observable impact. If a patient comes to a doctor and says that they feel depressed, that's one thing, if they have lost their third job this year because they can't do anything but lie in bed and seem to not care about their own lives (especially if they used to not be like this in the past) that's something else.
How do you objectively verify "manic"? You can track hours slept. No one fakes sleeping two hours a day for a month while having, say, good motor skills in the daytime.
This matters because recurring brief hospitalization is necessary for some people to get back on their axis. This is NOT "sanity days" or "mental healing", it's a clear cut medical issue.
Not all “physical” (the term is not really the correct distinction, since all illness, including mental illness, is physical) illness is diagnosed directly in that manner (not all physical illness can be, because not all is understood well enough to have definitive tests, and it's not always clinical practice to do so even when it is possible in principle.) And, on the other side, some psychiatric conditions have lab tests of the same sort available.
"psychiatric diagnosis still relies exclusively on fallible subjective judgments rather than objective biological tests" -Allen Frances
See, e.g., http://www.thedailybeast.com/can-a-blood-test-diagnose-menta...
>Diagnosis is based on observed behavior, the person's reported experiences, and reports of others familiar with the person...As of 2013 there is no objective test. 
Edit: the source you edited in simply states the corollary to what I've been saying all along: that scientists are still searching for a biological test for mental illness but as yet still do not have one
I'm sympathetic, but don't make the discussion worse by throwing falsehoods like this around.
Besides the fact expressed by others that physically illness is more diagnosable, you typically don't get mentally ill from being in proximity to a mentally ill person. (At least, I never have.)
Physical illness is a different situation. That's why my workplace offers near unlimited sick time for this reason. As much as we'd love you have to working, we don't want your diseases.
(Granted, having an anxiety attack in the middle of work may not do wonders for the mental state of your coworkers, but blithey asserting this "no different" is dubious at best.)
You also don't get physically ill from being in proximity to someone with a non-contagious disease or a sprained ankle, so that's an irrelevant distinction.
Sick days are not just for flus and colds that are contagious...
Agreed. I meant to mention that.
> so that's an irrelevant distinction.
Flus and colds are by far the most common uses of sick days, so I wouldn't say it's "irrelevant."
Contagious diseases (and, a fortiori, those that are contagious on casual contact) are a distinct subset of so-called “physical” illness.
You don't get cancer from being in proximity to someone with cancer, either.
The disease itself is a delusion, regarding microscopic fibers in the skin. Sufficiently impressionable people simply hear about it, convince themselves that they have it, then they go on to try to convince others that it is a physical ailment rather than a mental illness.
If you are politically incorrect enough to classify religions as mental illnesses, many of those appear to be contagious as well.
But on a smaller scale, workplace morale is definitely infectious. If someone is having a particularly stressful day, they may be rude to someone else, who then feels worse as a result, and may propagate that to yet another co-worker. Of particular interest is that such transmission need not take place in person. A person with a common cold could work from home to keep everyone else from catching it, but someone with malaise or anxiety could transmit that via any medium that can include emotional undertone, such as a voice or video call.
Enter the Internet. Now all the susceptible people can aggregate around their own forums/boards/podcasts/groups/subreddits and infect each other with their unique strains of madness.
There's no more herd immunity, because all the susceptible people can find each other instantly.
In the sense that you can go to a doctor, get diagnosed, get treatment, get that treatment paid for by an insurance company and get legal protections under laws applying to health care they are "no different."
Since we are talking about how corporate HR policies apply to mental health and not the philosophy of medicine I would argue that these are the similarities that actually matter.
I tend to agree with you, but the concept of "contagion" is widely used in mental health settings. Self harm, or suicidality, can be "contagious".
Waiting until the worst happens isn't sustainable and just makes things harder to recover. Perhaps burnout isn't just simply mental but a larger, systemic degradation of the body.
That sounds pretty standard in any contract here in Denmark, and we have some very strong unions which have created good conditions for employees. I personally think it's fair for the employer to ask for a doctor's note if he/she thinks an employee is skipping work just for the hell of it. Though said unions have made it so that the employer has to pay for the doctor's note, when they request it, so it happens rarely.
On my particular team, we can call in day-of often, if we don't have imminent deadlines or important meetings. "Hey, not feeling good, PTO". No one questions it. It's not abused, in that I have never felt it impacts the team's work.
And I guarantee I've used it for sanity days, especially recently!
It means that I cannot simply take care of myself, but that I have to go to a doctor and have them tell me that I'm sick and to do the things that I'd have done anyhow, like get plenty of rest and take some Nyquil at night.
The end result is that I almost never take 3 sick days in a row, even if I'm really sick. I end up coming to work, getting others sick, and getting nothing done. (Or worse, doing damage that I later have to repair before I can get work done.)
The alternative is PTO, which is usually worse because sick leave gets mashed with vacation.
The problem is that this scenario is socially viewed as my foult or being irresponsible; I should have seen to it that I got good sleep. If I slip off of my porch and hurt my back no one questions me not coming in; No "You should have used the handrail" or "maybe de-ice your steps regularly"
Mental illness is a real thing, it is not just "I don't feel like going to work"
There was an eng manager that would pester people about vaguer emails asking for clarification. I really wanted to just sit him down and explain that he isn't being clever and he was basically being a jackass for prying into people's personal lives - vague email is vague for a reason.
Third time around in therapy (last year), I decided to be very open about my mental health, and the steps I was taking to help myself. So my emails became 'I can't do that then, I'm in therapy.'.
I found personally, that being honest and open to everyone about my problems actually contributed in a small way to my recovery effort. Even now, stabilised and medicated, I'm still honest and open about my [ongoing] journey, and who I was as person then, and who I am now.
I am never going to lie about being crazy again, it's not healthy.
I could be way off the mark of course. I intend no disrespect or ill-will of any kind. I understand if you just say "None of your business" or something like that.
'Crazy' is how I view myself. It helps me accept my broken brain, and more importantly, makes it easier to stay on the meds. Without the meds, I'm into serious depression and anxiety territory. It's no fun being there, so better to call myself Crazy. It is what it is. Also, I use self depreciating humour as defence mechanism. People I know personally don't like it when I call myself Crazy though, not sure why.
One day I do intend to get an 'I AM crazy, the doctor had me tested.' t-shirt. (see what I did there?)
And if I had a friend who defined themselves as crazy that would honestly strike me as obnoxious. (I'd give a pass for schizophrenia or the like. Then your brain truly would be broken).
I say this having struggled in my own way (as, many, many - probably the majority - of people do at some point) with forms of anxiety and depression.
Everybody is trying to focus.
Everybody is trying to be happy and stable.
Everybody is trying to get by.
My point is that anyone can be "broken"... Not just people with schizophrenia. And sometimes, for both schizophrenia and other conditions, accepting that you're somewhat broken in a way can be very helpful. It allows you to accept help more easily and relieve yourself of personal blame for the ways you may have acted or continue to act due to the condition.
Source: I have a schizophrenia-spectrum disorder.
I have had to mentor many people in my life that your reasons for being put are your own, and if you give some overly wordy specific reasoning it looks fake even when truth...
An email calling in late or sick should never be more than one sentence.
"OOO today - but reachable
OOO today off grid
WFH - reachable by normal channels
Even better is #OOO slack channel and people just post in there any day they are out...
"OOO/WFH: be back Tuesday at 11am"
The "still" is incredibly premature when it comes to mental health in the workplace. We're just scratching the surface when it comes to acknowledging, accepting and understanding those with mental health disorders. Depression, ADHD and even Autism Spectrum and OCD are all on the leading edge of disorders that are receiving less stigmatization and more acceptance over time. But there's a lot more in the DSM-V that are completely misunderstood or completely unpublicized. And our workplaces are completely unprepared to deal with them.
I saw this first hand at my previous employer. We had a coworker who had a number of personal disagreements with other coworkers. In discussing it with my mother, a psychologist, she mentioned that much of his behavior sounded, to her, like someone with Borderline Personality Disorder. He was everyone's best friend up until they did anything he interpreted as being against him at which point he'd flip and try to sabotage them at every opportunity, including filing numerous baseless claims with HR. The organization was completely unprepared to deal with an individual like him. Each HR claim he filed was treated seriously, but there was never encouragement or a requirement that he talk to a trained mental health professional who could have been helped guide the company to a productive outcome. Instead, his conflicts with other employees caused at least 3 of them to quit before he was eventually forced out of the company for taking on someone who had too much pull with upper management. I can only imagine the carnage that would have been caused if he had been a she and had been able to abuse the sexual harassment policies.
HR is only trained to help the company avoid getting sued. But there's damage to both the employee and the company that can happen without the lawyers getting involved. The company's HR failed him and the rest of us that had to work with him by not knowing how to deal with that sort of psychological disorder.
Rather than "it's 2017 and mental health is still an issue," I'd say, "it's 2017 and we're finally starting to acknowledge the long road ahead of us."
A small note that borderline personality disorder, like many mental disorders, is a complex condition. Specifically, a person must meet 5 of 9 diagnostic criteria in the DSM to be diagnosed with BPD; since they can meet any 5 of those 9, this means that many individuals with BPD can present very differently. This is a weakness of the DSM.
BPD specifically is problematic: it has only been well understood in the last few decades, and has an undeserved reputation due to media portrayals. Even the name is controversial, with the 'borderline' name a throwback to the very early days of psychiatry. Alternative names like "emotional dysregulation disorder" are now commonly preferred to avoid these associations.
All this to say: while the OP's experiences are valid, care must be taken not to generalize behavior from one person with a disorder to other people with the same disorder. This is how stigmas arise.
[Disclaimer: not a professional, have just read a little on these matters and, like many of us in this thread, have known people who struggle with mental illness.]
When people have disorders like you list they are disabling. That's expensive for the worker and the employer and ultimately our social systems but it's just kind of expected that those people are forgotten with no resources but their own to cope. That's a horrible broken system.
What scares me is the undiagnosed (as you pointed out). There's way too many people in public perception that when analyzed closely have some kind of personality disorder. Not to play psychobabble but way too often these disorders are recognized for the success they provide but the destructive aspects are ignored. Some of these people have been so successful that they'll die untreated and it's a loss for them and everyone else.
Jobs had something wrong with him that he appears to have recognized and mitigated over time. Trump has something wrong with him, he'll never get treated. There are some other popular figures that are less controversial but in the same boat. Straight up sociopathic behavior that is applauded until enough people get hurt.
Then you've got the unsuccessful delusional people who end up committing mass murder. How many shootings and terrorist attacks could have been prevented through relatively cheap mental healthcare?
It seems like an obvious weak point in society that we don't really address. Worse, you gotta wonder if social media is exacerbating it in some people. It's easy to become a delusional narcissist these days. Maybe it always has been?
1. Diagnosing others based on second hand information. Presumably not as a professional either.
2. Attempting to define right and "wrong" behavior in a psychological context.
On (1): you experience a vast minority of Trump's or Job's life (unless you know them personally). How can you possibly hold to those claims? You have no idea how either of them acted in non-public contexts.
On (2): I would assume that establishing a proper range for "sanity" sits as one of the larger difficulties around the psychological field of study (although I do not know). Too narrow of a definition and you risk identifying everyone with something wrong. Too wide and you risk alienating those who could benefit from some kind of help.
I completely agree with your categorization of mental health services as a "weak point" in society largely unaddressed. With that, I think individuals need to exhibit care throwing around 'diagnoses' casually outside of a proper psychological context.
Trump also projects as someone with a personality disorder. We have plenty of material to suggest that his behavior is in fact unhealthy and detrimental.
My point wasn't to diagnose those two (you'll notice I did not), but to point out just two individuals which have signs of personality disorder. They may not in fact have any disorders, but how many Jobs wannabes do and that kind of behavior is not just tolerated but celebrated? That context is a real enabler for people with disorders.
But that doesn't mean that it's not valuable to use incomplete information to speculate on a diagnosis in other settings. Historians do this when they can use psychological theory to explain the actions of the people they're writing about. The example that stands out in my memory was Alice Miller's exploration of Hitler's possible psychological profile in "For Your Own Good." Just because she wasn't working from a complete medical profile doesn't devalue that exploration, it just means that the conclusions reached should be interpreted differently. Her diagnosis wasn't aimed at crafting a course of treatment for the individual since he was long dead. Instead, it was meant as a way to understand how a set of normal and understandable circumstances can yield an individual so far from normal that he could otherwise defy understanding.
It seems quite natural that Steve Jobs would be psychoanalyzed in much the same fashion. He was someone who was highly successful and impactful, so to the extent that his psychological profile can be mined for traits and practices that led to that success, it should. And he was highly polarizing, so we can also find areas of his profile that current and future leaders should be aware being possibilities in themselves as well. But since Jobs is dead, the need for a clinical accuracy in the diagnosis is gone. A more probabilistic diagnosis that looks at what was likely going on rather than concluding what is going on is all we can do.
Trump, while still alive, is also a candidate for this type of psychoanalysis. Like Jobs, no part of the diagnosis will lead to any course of treatment. In fact the most common diagnosis people seem to claim (narcissistic personality disorder) would mean that Trump would be very likely ignore any of that speculation, no matter how accurate it is. But where this type of analysis can be useful is in guiding the rest of us in how we respond to Trump's actions. Again, it's not important for us to be perfectly correct, it's only important to inform our actions based on the most likely diagnosis. Because the consequences of a "we can't know, so we shouldn't guess" are just too high. This is a man that can start wars, launch nuclear missiles or exercise any of the myriad powers granted to the US President. Even a limited understanding of the thought process of the man wielding those powers can be vital to opponents and allies in the US and other world leaders abroad.
Jesus man, how do you write something like that in the comments for an article about removing mental health stigmas and improving care for those effected?
Sorry to vent, but this is becoming alarmingly common in discussions here and I feel the level of respect and reading comprehension of the average discussion participant here is dropping pretty quickly.
A bit off-topic, but in case you're interested in that 'something', here's one analysis from a psychologist that made the rounds of liberal psychologists that my mother associates with: http://www.nationalmemo.com/psychoanalyzing-donald-trump/
The author himself admits it's horribly unethical and overwhelmingly likely to be entirely wrong in the very first paragraph, but somehow justifies his continued speculation because a random group of peers (as if these peers being located within the grounds of Yale for a conference gives them some sort of authority) decided it was okay this one time because they don't like the subject in question.
If you truly care about creating political change and/or defeating Trump you'll focus on policies that the majority of the electorate are willing to vote for instead of sharing feel good tabloid pablum to justify your superiority complex.
When we chatted, he basically laid down that he was concerned- when I had worked for him, I'd been depressed. He wanted to protect his startup from that kind of attitude. So there I was jumping through hoops to assure him that I had gotten therapy, that I was keeping an eye on it, on and on... only afterwards did I realize how fucked up that was.
Yes, he's got a right to try to protect a fragile young startup. But on the other hand, he's doing it via discrimination due to health issues.
In the end, I also realized something else that mattered: I was always feeling like shit those days that I worked for him in large part because of how he ran things. After he left, we got a much better manager who honestly seemed to work hard to make me happy. Why the hell would I want to go work for that guy again in the first place?
Is your negative attitude due to a medical condition or you just being an asshole who has an attitude problem?
And is that even material to the decision to hire you or not? No one really cares why you act like that, they simply care that you do.
I'm going to say it's entirely on you to present yourself in a positive light at work, and I honestly think your ex-manager was doing you a solid there. The typical way this plays out is your mental condition (or possibility of one) gets discussed by management behind closed doors and you never know why you didn't receive that offer or promotion. And yes, based on my limited experience with larger companies this is exceedingly common at the executive level. The one thing you don't want on your "record" is a history of mental health issues - there is no recovery to your (management) career once that is known.
In your case I think you simply had the curtain pulled back a little, out of consideration from your past manager.
Your other points stand though.
I'm always unsure. These days, I'm generally a pretty positive guy but I know I've struggled in the past.
On this particular team I was definitely not the biggest asshole. In fact, after this manager left, the biggest asshole was fired pretty much based on the fact that the new managers weren't willing to tolerate his attitude. The bro culture of the team was curtailed (which is why I was so much happier on it afterwards).
It's very hard to be a manager, a people leader. I don't think he was wrong to bring up the fact - he was doing it because he wanted to protect his company - but it certainly danced around a line of legality. After I withdrew my application he made sure to tell friends of mine that he had rejected me because of my depression. Really mature, that guy is.
Sorry, I just wanted to post to say I completely misread that. I dropped the sentence before the mature statement. I felt a seperate post was warranted.
In that case where he talked about it to others? You should have sued the fuck out of him. That is unacceptable in any situation. This kind of changes the entire tone of my follow-on posts, so I do apologize.
This is really the only issue I have. Maybe your manager sucked, I don't know. But this specific story is absolutely the opposite. He put himself out on the line (as you say) and was honest with you. Typical folks would simply not talk to you whatsoever, but have the same reasoning.
Maybe I'm strange, but I'd far prefer the latter.
Story time. My best hire I've made was an employee with a speech impediment. This job was for a night shift as a sysadmin/support role, and that required answering the phones at 2am when customers called. Customers don't call at 2am to have a friendly chat - so those calls typically were high stress, and it really caused his speech to falter quite a bit.
I could have easily simply bounced him on the phone interview, since we were a tiny startup at the time and one wrong hire had the potential to sink us. I had other livelihoods to think of - not just the "legal" situation.
So what I did was I asked the guy back for a second informal interview and laid my cards out on the table. He could have gotten up right then, left, and immediately sued me. But he didn't - we had a productive talk about it, and due to that talk (and other self-starting qualities he had shown) he got the job.
I've now worked with him for over 10 years, through thick and thin and switching companies.
If I had followed your advice here - as the hiring manager I would have simply round-filed the resume due to the potential issues, and went on with my day. I took the risk, and it worked out. I don't believe what I did should have been punishable by death of my company - but it absolutely was if that potential hire had been ethically challenged. I also started the career of someone who was having challenges finding work elsewhere due to "unknown reasons" - aka people seeing his impairment and silently crossing him off the candidate list. Due to the insane legal framework around this stuff, very few companies will take risks like I did any longer.
You "laid your cards out on the table" -- which, as you note, is likely grounds for some sort of legal proceedings -- and it turned out.. I don't know even know. You got lucky that you weren't sued, as you willfully trampled through anti-discrimination laws. Why did it take some sort of put-it-on-the-line moment for you to consider the candidate beyond their physical disability?
You even go on to say that if the candidate was "ethically challenged", your company might suffer. You admit here that you were considering not hiring them because of a disability. How is it ethically challenged to possibly fight back over a dismissal based on being in a protected class? Do you view people with disabilities as simply a liability to companies?
Your closing sentences really smack of backdoor bragging. Good thing he found you, how lucky of him, someone that would tell him flat out to his face that they were worried he couldn't perform his job... and then decided to grace him with employment.
As the OP said, really mature. :/
Fair enough, could be seen that way. I only mentioned it because he's made that specific point himself to me many times. No one was willing to give him a shot for over a year due to his disability, yet in pop culture (as you have so clearly pointed out) I'm the evil one. I suppose that was an ill-advised addition, and should have been kept personal.
> Why did it take some sort of put-it-on-the-line moment for you to consider the candidate beyond their physical disability?
I really don't get this point. Why would I have taken the actions I did if I did not consider the candidate beyond their physical ability? I loved everything about him, but his disability put into severe question if he could perform the job. I had three choices at that point.
1) Round-bin the candidate. The vast majority of all employers do this at this stage.
2) Hire him blindly and hope for the best. In a 5 person startup this likely isn't a great plan for success. Plus if you make a hire like this and have to fire due to the disability not allowing him to perform the job I'm in a much stickier legal situation. Most likely I now get to hire another person to also do his job, and as a 5 man startup that just ended the company.
3) Talk with the candidate about my concerns, and see if we can come up with some reasonable accommodation. This is hugely risky as an employer if we end up not being able to come up with anything that works for us both. I took this option as I consider #1 absolutely immoral, and #2 had financial realities attached to it all the wishful thinking in the world wouldn't make go away.
And I do think you missed my point. The vast majority of employers completely ignore candidates like this because of posts like yours (e.g. the social climate) and legal liability if they say the wrong thing. In your estimation, I'm required to hire someone with a disability that cannot do the job. That is not true.
It took that moment because there were serious and legitimate concerns about his ability to do the job. Since he was a reasonable person he discussed those concerns with me like an adult, and we found a solution that worked for both of us. Hired. Had we not been able to find a workable solution, I shouldn't have had to open myself up to a potential frivolous lawsuit due to that fact.
And yes, you can say I trampled through anti-discrimination laws I suppose. But doing so got him hired, when before it would have been an open question if he could legitimately perform the job duties required. In this case, following the letter of the law would have hurt him since I could not have even broached the subject.
> Do you view people with disabilities as simply a liability to companies?
Again, I think you are having severe problems separating what reality actually is, to what the law says. I never said this in any way - I specifically noted how there were legitimate concerns over the employee's disability to do the job required. There are no reasonable accommodations to be made if the job is talk on the phone and you are incapable of doing so, and I would have had zero way to know if this problem was able to be mitigated in any fashion until I asked. Which I legally cannot do.
My point was if I had followed the law, that guy's resume would have been trashed like it was for the 50+ companies he got into and interviewed with to that point. Magically zero companies were interested the second he had to speak in person or on the phone and his disability revealed itself. He was otherwise solid, and me taking the time and liability to actually engage him in discussion about my concerns allowed me to feel comfortable hiring him and got his career started. My secondary point is good managers will absolutely color outside the lines with you and work with you to be successful in your career. OPs manager took him aside and outlined his concerns - in my opinion (as someone who has suffered the same condition) that's extremely respectful. The typical manager would have simply never even talked to the guy again, as it wasn't worth the risk.
I guess I simply will refuse to feel bad about this, even though you'd like that outcome. I'm absolutely proud I stuck my neck out and did the right thing - very few companies will these days. There are entire classes of untouchables I could talk your ear off about that everyone has utterly forgotten where the laws supposedly "protect" them but do the exact opposite. I put my money where my mouth is, where most simply ignore the problem exists due to perceived liability while simultaneously patting themselves on the back over how progressive they are being. It's sickening to me.
Edit: cleaned up some prose, less confrontational.
> Is your negative attitude due to a medical condition or you just being an asshole who has an attitude problem?
See, if it's diagnosed depression then it's not tricky all. It's because of a medical condition. Why even say this? Why even imply this?
For people with depression, sometimes "being positive" is "getting out of bed and finding a way to make it through the day" or even simply not taking your own life. Writing a blurb about positive attitude suggests you're dismissive of the issue. I'm not sure if you meant to be, but you're dismissing this person's condition in the most insulting way possible.
You're further warning them that if they do treat it their career is over and they should avoid that? You're being awful.
I didn't imply it. I said it is irrelevant. No one cares if you being an asshole is due to your depression or you just being you. The impact on the business is the same either way.
> I'm not sure if you meant to be, but you're dismissing this person's condition in the most insulting way possible.
Right, obviously this is a very emotional topic for you. I think you will find that I probably have lived this situation more than you realize, and my advice is given as direct experience from my own life as the "victim" of my mental health being known professionally. I re-read my comment, and absolutely nothing about it was dismissive or implied to "think positively" as you imply.
If I could go back in time I'd never tell anyone I was severely depressed. It is not a good career move, no matter how much you wish that not to be the case. It's absolutely downright dangerous to think anyone actually cares about you in this aspect of your career.
> You're further warning them that if they do treat it their career is over and they should avoid that? You're being awful.
Didn't say that at all. I said make sure it's not known you received said treatment, as your career in many managerial/executive fields is now over. Again, you can hate that statement all you want - but I'm telling a truth from my personal experience. I made no illusions as to me wanting this to be the case? Where did you get that?
My point is thus: If you are known in executive circles in your industry to have had past mental health issues, your career is going to be severely impacted. Do you disagree with that statement? You don't have to want that to be the case, but you sure as hell need to know the game you are playing before you begin.
> Right, obviously this is a very emotional topic for you. I think you will find that I probably have lived this situation more than you realize,
I am very sorry if you had terrible experiences, but they don't change that what you're saying is that a medical condition is an objective and valid thing to discriminate upon. There is a somewhat obscure word for this: "ableism."
> I said make sure it's not known you received said treatment, as your career in many managerial/executive fields is now over. Again, you can hate that statement all you want - but I'm telling a truth from my personal experience. I made no illusions as to me wanting this to be the case? Where did you get that?
Stop being a willing tool of people that want to make this so. What you're describing is not "the way things are." It's "the way you're helping to make them." We are this industry now. We can remake it as we see fit.
Point taken :) I will rephrase as: The vast majority of your co-workers could care less why you're being an asshole to them, if it's a sustained problem.
> I am very sorry if you had terrible experiences, but they don't change that what you're saying is that a medical condition is an objective and valid thing to discriminate upon. There is a somewhat obscure word for this: "ableism."
So your position is that you can act any way you like to your co-workers at work, undermine entire projects with your negativity, cause morale issues for other staff, and if you happen to have a medical condition to explain all that your employer just has to deal? Having been that guy, fuck that. I deserved to be fired and re-evaluate my life, medical condition or no medical condition.
I don't think the world works that way, and I honestly don't think I'd like it to. Not everything needs to pander to someone with a problem - and I say that as someone with problems I don't want anyone pandering to. The workplace should be as much of a meritocracy as possible.
There is a reason the words "reasonable accommodation" are used in this context. We could argue all day on what reasonable is, but even the courts understand you need the base ability to do the job regardless of your disability.
> Stop being a willing tool of people that want to make this so. What you're describing is not "the way things are." It's "the way you're helping to make them." We are this industry now. We can remake it as we see fit.
This is a decent point. But unfortunately I am not in a position of power in the industry to affect change, and at this point my career would be harmed if I tried to take the moral high ground. I will absolutely say this would be a personal failing of mine - I'm not willing to be the one sacrificed for the greater good here, and that is certainly part of why this problem exists.
I shouldn't have opened my mouth on the topic, and I certainly already regret it. It's far too emotional and nuanced of an issue to really discuss in an open forum on the Internet, and there are certainly personal things I'm sure we'd enjoy discussing in detail. Cheers!
No. That is not my position.
Let's reframe this around a physical problem to remove our inbuilt stigma based around centuries of dualism. If you had carpal tunnel and needed to take a week off or maybe schedule regular physical therapy this would be normal and fine. Someone might say, "Can you work on this right now?" and you might say, "I'm sorry, I'm not capable right now, I have a disability and I need to deal with it or it will get worse."
It is ludicrous to say, "Why are you so negative? Your refusal to work impacts the team badly. You're fired." No one bats an eye at this because physical pain of this type is not stigmatized in the US.
Despite a very similar kind of long-term treatment and slow realization of these conditions, one is normal to support and the other has you begging to be fired for negativity and shaming yourself in pubic for having dealt with it.
Your position is that it's okay to abandon people if they have problems you're not comfortable talking about.
> I don't think the world works that way, and I honestly don't think I'd like it to. Not everything needs to pander to someone with a problem - and I say that as someone with problems I don't want anyone pandering to. The workplace should be as much of a meritocracy as possible.
Making basic affordances (like offering disability time) for people with mental health illnesses is no different from making time for folks to deal with a sudden infection, heart issues, etc. It's a health problem. It's one that can lead to someone leaving their job, but doesn't always.
Please, stop stigmatizing mental health illnesses.
> I shouldn't have opened my mouth on the topic, and I certainly already regret it…
I've got to tell you, if this is actually reflecting hiring practices you've helped engage in then you should not talk about it as this is a pretty significant violation of the ADA you're justifying. This behavior isn't just immoral and unfair, it's illegal.
I'm sorry if you feel pressured or uncomfortable about this. I truly am. But you're actively promoting unfair treatment of people based on health issues that they almost certainly did not try to acquire, but are very often treatable! The pressure you're applying to others here is part of why MHIs run rampant through out industry. It sounds like you yourself suffer at the hands of this stigma.
It's difficult, but we all need to start pushing back against it. It's not the moral high ground, it's everyone's legal obligation. Not following these rules leads to incredibly costly (and qf justified) discrimination lawsuits that can and should crush startups that dare violate them.
What did I justify? The conversation the potential manager had? If so, sure I did justify and stand by that statement. That guy worked for him before, and had built up (presumably) solid rapport. I see nothing wrong with putting everything out on the table. If you meant anything else though, you're putting words in my mouth. A random interviewee? Yeah, I would agree with you that it's inappropriate and legally actionable.
We're going to have to disagree here. In your world, the guy never talks to his manager and never knows there is that issue floating out there others talk about behind his back (if your manager is asking you about it, I would bet good money they've discussed the topic with their peers for advice). In my world, at least the guy knows and can confront that how he wishes. Your world the guy wonders why he wasn't hired for no explainable reason. I agree that this is the legal framework we work in, but due to your attitude there are entire classes of untouchables that could otherwise find gainful employment.
The culture of silence and "oh I better not talk about it!" is absolutely immoral, and the typical response to these things is simply round-binning the resume to avoid any potential liability whatsoever. If you haven't seen this wink wink nudge nudge behaviour by HR and hiring managers in even huge corporations, you simply haven't been looking. I'm saying I find it actively damaging to society. Talk about it! Get shit out there and be human for the love of $deity! This culture of silence and simply writing people off through "legal" means is insane.
> Your position is that it's okay to abandon people if they have problems you're not comfortable talking about.
I.... what? I really must be doing a poor job conveying my actual point. My actual point is that if you cannot perform your job, and reasonable accommodations cannot be made (e.g. you bring down morale of your co-workers due to your shitty behaviour and refuse to correct it) over the course of time you can and should be fired regardless of any underlying medical condition - could be back pain that makes you impossible to work with - it's immaterial. A company is not a charity or health center. I'd highly prefer a culture where we could talk about this in the open (regardless of mental or physical issue, I don't care in the least) instead of secrecy.
Taking a week off once or twice a year and a day here and there for a condition is perfectly acceptable. Acting as a long-term cancer on your team is not, and cannot be accommodated. Much different than someone saying hey I'm having issues and need to take a couple weeks off. Absolutely no one would argue with you on this point, so I'm not sure why you made it. It's the long-term non-performing employee who has a disability that cannot be accommodated for where it absolutely leaves room for discussion. Guess one way untreated clinical depression typically manifests itself in angry folks in IT? Stereotypes aside, I have to say I must live in a bubble if that's not generally true. Accommodating that is not reasonable, clinical diagnosis or not. A sabbatical I would argue is far more appropriate, if any accommodation at all could be made.
If you meant the case where someone battling depression needs a few days here and there, or a week off to recharge? I have zero problem with that, have taken advantage of that policy at my company, and have unquestionably been supportive of any employees that have needed it in turn. That's a textbook example of a reasonable accommodation.
Really there were two main points I was trying to make.
1) Having a potential hiring manager ask these questions doesn't offend me in the least, and I honestly feel the laws saying otherwise are immoral due to the huge chilling effect this has put on hiring people with disabilities. Perhaps my cure is worse than the disease, but this is a massive unspoken problem in nearly every major corporation in the US. Look at any of the studies based on blind applicants vs. racial indicators - the disability applicants are much worse off. The inability to feel out a candidate with an obvious disability to see if they can legitimately perform the job is not an option, and I posit this is actively harmful. That coupled with the fact good managers actually give a shit about you, and will be happy to tell them their personal worries and concerns in return.
2) Due to the current climate, you're not being very smart if you advertise you had a mental condition in the past. I make no moral claims that this is OK, my only "evil" action here is I advise people to play the current game vs. shaking it up. It's fine to have the opposite position, but it comes at severe personal penalty you have so far completely ignored. I'm not talking about how I want the world to be, I'm talking about how it is and how it affects people today - and becoming a martyr for the cause at the expense of your career is a pretty arrogant thing to ask anyone but yourself to do. I made this suggestion as an employee who has experienced the fallout - it's simply not worth it at this date in history. Unless you are independently wealthy and just don't care. Not sure how you twisted this advice into my hiring practices, and I feel that was a pretty disingenuous leap of logic to make based on my post. This is why it's dangerous to talk about this stuff, people hear what they want to fit their narrative (including myself).
I think we largely agree, perhaps not on everything - but my goal is to get more employable people employed and in happy lives (both the disabled, and those with criminal records). The laws actively work against this in many cases, where you can't even have a discussion on the topic without some potential legal liability. So the default action is to try as hard as possible to not ever get into that situation and thus makes entire classes of people effectively untouchables.
I posit that more openness and less perceived (and lets be honest here - the vast majority of this is perceived legal risk with no grounding in actual reality) legal risk is a good thing, and will result in more candidates getting call backs if the hiring manager isn't afraid of either getting hit with a discrimination lawsuit, or a candidate who legitimate cannot perform the job (since he's not legally allowed to ask). As a hiring manager you don't get many mulligans, so it's your career on the line as well. What option do you think the vast majority of folks take? It's simple game theory. We are incentivizing the wrong behaviour, with predictable results.
You have absolutely reminded me why I will not wade into these as devils advocate any longer. I thought I made a rather tame post coming at the issue from a different angle, and gave a little hard-fought advice from personal experience. You interpreted that to state I think it's OK to fire anyone for an inconvenient disability, which is no where near the point I made.
Edit: As I posted up thread, holy crap.
> After I withdrew my application he made sure to tell friends of mine that he had rejected me because of my depression. Really mature, that guy is.
I went back to re-read the thread, as I was utterly confused at your rather combative responses - it felt like I was on Reddit there for a minute.
I had completely misread that, and not seen the leading sentence. This changes my entire stance on the guy, and I agree he should have the everliving hell sued out of him. That is not acceptable at all, ever, in any situation. The tone of my followup post would have been decidedly different, but my main points generally stand had that not been the case.
For the record, what your old manager was doing (directly asking you about your mental health status in a quasi-interview setting) was probably illegal, at least in the US (IANAL). There are pretty strict rules around the kinds of things that employers are allowed to ask prospective employees about, and health (mental or otherwise) is very much on the "not allowed" list.
Employees have a legal right to protection from discrimination along those lines, and companies (no matter how small) most definitely do _not_ have the right to discriminate in that way.
This is a gross oversimplification to the point of being untrue.
In addition to what the sibling comment said about asking itself not being illegal, you're allowed to discriminate based on health/disability status all you want if the disability prevents an employee from doing a bona fide job requirement and there isn't any "reasonable accommodation" you can provide for that employee.
For example - if you're a interviewing/hiring for a job that requires the employee to, say, move heavy boxes all day you're going to need to ask that employee "can you lift and move boxes up to 60 pounds?" and you're going to have to reject candidates that can't due to health conditions. Likewise you may have to reject a candidate who is a bad coder even if he has a learning disability.
This is an excellent point. It sounds like things are better for you and I am glad of that.
We can have laws or corporate rules or whatever but at the end of the day people just have to stop being so lousy to one another. Obviously this means there shouldn’t be people screaming at each other but it’s a lot more than that. It’s also the little things: don’t cut in lines, don’t be a jerk in traffic, don’t eat stinky meals in the middle of crowds, don’t get in peoples’ way or be generally oblivious to what’s around you, etc. These are all the “paper cuts” of the mind, gradually aggravating people day after day until they just can’t handle it anymore.
Depression is something that colors the entire world dark and gray. It turns a bunch of normal remarks into thousands of little papercuts. No one is right or wrong here, but for a depressed person, understanding how depression colors the world can be useful.
Actually, I think folks would talk behind your back and wonder why you put up with the abuse - but they'll generally stay out of it. If you are lucky, they'll call the cops for a checkup.
If you give yourself paper cuts, folks will still talk about you. A few will offer an ear if you need to talk. And some folks will decide to shower you with complements so you stop ruining your body with scars.
Unfortunately, mental health is more horrid than that. It is like watching everyone get a papercut and go on with life, while it cripples you for a day.
As someone who struggled with depression for two decades, while ultimately thwarted, it was a hopeless, numbing plague. As a coping mechanism, I developed my career working remotely. I was unable to function within a typical office environment. At home I could steal away to my bedroom and hide from the black under cover of blanket, when I needed to.
It's encouraging to see the silent struggle find words and champions. May others who are going through the darkness find supportive and loving environments; any change to find them is worth it. You are the author of your journey and the hero: write a happy story.
My partner works at Olark. It truly is a human-focused business.
You put on a smile, try to follow the usual routine as a robot, and secretly go to your therapist to try to fix it before someone catches on. I was lucky therapy got me out of it, or at least mostly smoothed it out, in under 6 months.
Fixed working hours are one of the biggest problems in a profession like software engineering. On some days you just can't get anything done. It would be better to just take the day off and come back fresh the next day instead of sitting around and pretending that you are working.
This kind of attitude just sends the wrong message, devaluates everyone's work by subsuming it to mere tallies, and just outright crosses everyone, obliterating trust and turning it into a culture of fear. Turns out quite a bunch of us aren't efficient at all before 10AM because that's how our circadian rhythm is, yet it's viewed as laziness to come mere five minutes late as we're supposed to show up at least an hour earlier, preferably two. Net result, actual work is hardly done during this forced downtime, and reluctantly so afterwards. Everyone is just pretending to comply in order to bridge the impedance mismatch. As a result, everyone gets increasingly tired fighting their natural rhythm, and slowly growing bitter with each day passing as we witness ourselves wasting everyone's time.
Software development and engineering is a highly mental, creative process. We are not laying bricks 8 hours a day, we have to find and build new solutions to new problems, one by one. This process cannot be shifted, sliced, rearranged at will because it's not mindless, numbing, robot work.
I'm currently employed at a place that is relatively completely opposite of requiring a log to be submitted to management. Even so, there is still passive-aggressive chats about being to work on time and the total number of hours per week.
Whenever I make myself feel shitty for having a rough time making it into the office I have to remind myself that this isn't a factory position where working 30 more minutes means I produce 5 more widgets. Every single day is a unique work experience where I may work well beyond the time I should leave or I'm hit with all manner of distraction that makes it rough to accomplish anything other than surfing HN. Having (project) management types that have a similar work experience likely should produce a little more empathy than I feel is conveyed by my peers. I have to assume that being primarily driven by meetings and time-delimited tasks makes it difficult to see my perspective, even if there is some venturing into the nebulous side of things.
I do have days where I cant get code done, but luckily there are other things that work well on those days -- like catching up on research paper queues or audit/accounting/cleaning. Accounting/cleaning has a strangely and remedial quality, there is something soothing about getting things to balance perfectly and into order.
I am so burned out. So much on my plate, so much work to do, and literally not one neuron fires to get me going. My memory and mental function, at an all time low.
I gotta believe this just goes away, otherwise I lose my job for sure.
Take a month (or better yet, three). It will benefit both you and the company. Discuss options here, and whether or not it's paid (or paid partially).
It's a hard ask and a really hard conversation to start, but it sounds like you need the time.
Meds might help your present chemical situation but they're not going to change the mental ruts & habits your brain has formed (eg. I'm stressed, I want a cookie/beer/etc. I made a mistake, I'm so stupid).
Therapy can help you understand and notice those patterns, why they formed, and what you can do to gradually correct them, but you'll have a hard time if you're going uphill against your brain chemistry.
This book really helped give me a framework for understanding the exercise part of it: https://www.amazon.com/Power-Full-Engagement-Managing-Perfor...
And of course, like physical pain, in some situations mental illness is a signal the body is sending that something in life isn't right. I've had some serious depressive episodes evaporate as soon as I broke off a toxic relationship (personal or professional).
Happy to chat more in private if you want.
While I'm very happy that the author seems to be getting what they need, a day or even week here or there is not fixing my problem. I've always been the kind of person anyways who doesn't really settle into a vacation or travel excursion until around week 2, so maybe I just move more slowly.
Eventually I would like to contract again (been salaried for a few years now). I am lucky enough to have a partner in a different, but still also well-paying and in-demand industry, to help with finances. We live minimally anyways, so I'm hoping it wouldn't be impossible to maintain our quality of life without working myself to death chasing leads and payments. Partner is trying to do something similarly unorthodox. We have no aspirations for hockey stick growth or jackpot payouts, we just want to enjoy our lives while we can, while creating and helping in a way we like.
Edit: meant to reply to the comment regarding sabbaticals below.
But I do try and educate others on what OCD actually does to people like myself when the opportunity presents itself as it's definitely one of the most misunderstood disorders. It can easily ruin a day/week for me if I let the intrusive thoughts take over.
Anyone interested, take a read through the "symptoms" here:
> People with OCD understand that their notions do not correspond with reality
It's like having two thought processes running simultaneously - there's one set that is exactly how I was pre-OCD, and there's another that is _constantly_ trying to inject the various obsessions and compulsions. It's really disconcerting to have thoughts that don't really feel like your own thoughts, recognise them as dumb and irrational, yet end up acting on them anyway.
I can't stand this because I suffer from a double whammy: true diagnosed comorbid ADHD and OCD which people assume means that I'm just really hyper and picky. Also, people nowadays tend to assume that I was self-diagnosed (I wasn't) which I find to be a rather disrespectful and demeaning assumption.
Living with ADHD and OCD as a computer programmer is a daily struggle. I have to constantly stop myself from getting hyper-focused on problems unrelated to my job and stop myself from needlessly spending hours getting meaningless details just right. These distractions negatively impact my productivity, so I'm thankful everyday that I've accumulated enough smarts over the years to make up for it with what I produce.
It sucks having to fight yourself everyday in order to live some semblance of a normal life and it really sucks when people minimize your problems by adopting them as monikers for quirky personality traits.
I've struggled with this for as long as I remember, but I didn't really understand what was wrong with me until I was diagnosed a couple of years ago after having a particularly difficult time.
I was as open with my manager about it as I felt I could be, and they gave the impression of being supportive. When I got a new manager, I laid it all out (which my therapist encouraged me to do), and explained how I was trying new medications and that some of them had negatively affected me. He said he understood and that he'd make sure I got the support I needed. When review time came, he said things hadn't been perfect, but he considered that to be because I hadn't received the appropriate support from my previous manager. Things improved: he made sure I was assigned longer-term work that didn't involve having to switch between tasks too often. Unfortunately, everything I'd done suddenly became irrelevant when they decided to reboot a project, invalidating nine months of work.
Then one day, out of the blue, just as I was getting into the restarted project, I was called into a Hangout and told that that would be my last day, with no formal explanation given, other than that they were suddenly no longer happy with the quality of my work. I was devastated. My son had just started at a private school (because of his own problems with ADHD), and I was due to lease a new car later that day. We ended up homeschooling him for the rest of the year.
What really gets to me, though, is that there was no process. The VP of People had given a talk not longer before about "How to get fired from <company>", and one of the key takeaways was that no one should be fired without knowing it was coming, but for some reason I was treated differently. And all this from a company that preaches "love" as a core value. I'm not naive: I understand that it's all about the bottom line, not caring about people, but this was a company that wanted us to believe it cared about things like mental health.
I've learned my lesson, though. In future, I'll keep personal things to myself, and just try to do my best. I've learned not to think of colleagues as friends, and I will never again fill out a self-assessment except in the blandest, most generic of terms.
People don't talk about it because they don't want to all of a sudden be treated differently because 'mental health', and now people around you are walking on egg-shells or being fake supportive.
Why can't it just be a personality thing - some people need time alone more than others, for whatever reason that is. When you start labelling it mental health, all you're doing is self-diagnosing yourself into a hole that's hard to get out of. Unless you have debilitating problems of course, in which case the employer should know from day 1.
For the same reason a cold isn't "just my body." Just like a virus can put your body in a bad state, so too can various stimuli to your mind. You don't just chalk it up to "how things are", you attempt to resolve it. For a cold, your body does that on it's own and you mostly just wait it out. Mental health issues can be similar (I'm just feeling off today), or they might require some effort on the part of the sick person to resolve. Either way, you don't treat it as a personality quirk, as that undermines the severity of the issue (it really is a health issue) and implicitly shifts the blame to the person who is sick.
> When you start labelling it mental health, all you're doing is self-diagnosing yourself...
I don't see it as any different than self-diagnosing your cold as a physical ailment. Sometimes people are not capable to doing meaningful work due to their mental state, and people should feel comfortable saying that they need a sick day for their mental health.
: Which, it could be their fault. But ideally we want to describe issues without implying blame. But just like you could unable to work due to a hangover, you could knowingly put yourself into a scenario that you know (or should know) will put you in a bad mental state.
Edit: Forgot the dirty laundry quote. I want to comment on that too.
> It's not controversial, there's even a term for it - airing dirty laundry.
Airing dirty laundry is providing "too much information", saying "I need a sick day for mental health" doesn't strike me as an inappropriate amount of detail anymore than "I need a sick day for physical health". I suppose you could shorten it to "I need a sick day" if knowing any more information is too much.
> I suppose you could shorten it to "I need a sick day" if knowing any more information is too much
It's not at all unreasonable to say you need a couple of days off and say it's for personal reasons, and leave it at that. By providing personal information that's going to make other people see you in a lesser light, you're shooting yourself in the foot.
You can muse all you want about society being more accepting of this that and the other - the time and place you do and say things matters. A lot!
When you're in a position of power - go ahead and make people under you feel safe to talk about mental health etc. Don't assume other people are interested in accommodating your needs when you're a relatively replaceable employee.
My mental illness is sufficiently severe that I need months, not days, to unpack and unwind, and I haven't felt not-burnt-out in about half a decade. I only get to do this between jobs.
I'm glad that this situation worked out alright for the employee, but there often isn't enough sick leave available.
I would think true mental health accommodation would involve long periods of leave, or limited hours, or limited days (e.g. 3 day work-weeks) or all of the above. Not many businesses are setup for that.
The average person in the Netherlands works 25 hours a week, yet they still have a higher GDP per capita. Not per hour, just overall. They work less, yet generate more.
Generally small and/or resource rich countries tend to have a high GDP per capita, so comparisons usually aren't very fair.
To find such approaches, you have to do a lot of personal investigation, reading forums, talking to people, etc. My suspicion is that formal mental health practitioners would rather you came in for regular, recurring one hour sessions for years, rather than pointing you in this direction. But that may just be the cynic in me.
Take sick days. Plan sick days.
My corp job had unlimited sick Time - after 5 days required disability. I felt i had to go every day; no breaks. No way to get a health day. Wanted to be that (very stupid) employee that never took a sick day. Didnt realize it benefited company. I chose my company over my family by not calling out. I wasnt "sick" i thought.
My Blue collar jobs i have to show sick dr note, but that is quite legit and easy. No stress. Dont feel well; tired? Back hurts? Spouse ill? I call out. NO GUILT.
Avoid the mental health or stress words. Use stomach or lyme or back injury or vision.
Looking back all my "i dont call in sick" didnt do me one iota of good
Now, i take off if and when i want. How i wish i was blue collar first before white collar
Trying to warn people who have yet to deal with it seems impossible. I've had sit-down heart-to-heart conversations with people I love about commitment to work, expectation setting, work/life balances, etc. and I've never had a good outcome. I've watched people go through the inevitable physical sickness that never seems to go away, and then have that turn into emotional and mental sickness which also never seems to go away. In the end, I always wish there was something more I could do to help them head this off. But no matter how hard I've tried it still happens.
Isn't it a bit odd that companies who otherwise trust employees with business critical matters, sometimes matters of life and death even, won't trust them to be mature enough to decide when they need to take time off?
When I was in grade 7, me and this girl Elissa were seated at the back of the class. We had the kind of desks where you had to lift up the top to get at your books.
We were lifting the tops up to hide behind them while 'secretly' telling each other stupid jokes and giggling.
In retrospect, the teacher definitely knew what we were doing but he probably figured since we were generally good kids he'd just let us get away with it and have a bit of fun.
Most of my jobs in my career have offered 25-30 days paid holiday, plus the 8 or so days of public holidays, and paid sick leave.
That way you don't fall into a trap of debating whether you should use your last allotted "personal day" on something you might thing isn't worth taking it for as you might need it later.
In general, we as a culture tend towards confidentiality about medical conditions.
I have rarely used sick days when in a salaried position, and take a bit of pride in that. But when I do, I expect to not need to explain myself. And I have no problem on a personal ethics level using a sick day for pretty much anything that feels beyond my control, unavoidable, unexpected, and would prevent me from doing a good job.
Maybe that's not the exact letter of what a sick day is for in my employment agreement, but I've never been questioned about a sick day.
I am under the impression the stipulations about what a sick day can be used for are protection against abuse by employees who will game the system. Since that's not me, I don't give it much thought.
* The study referenced also includes neurological disorders, so we do need to be careful with the article's interpretation.
I'd expect the number of mental health issues with an underlying [known] physiological nature (say, bipolar, schizophrenia), and thus mediated with the proper treatment to be _very_ low.
Mental health issues resulting from workspace, work, stress and in general lifestyle issues can still be medicated to help recovery, though the proper solution would obviously be a change in lifestyle.
I've witnessed many people with depression. I can only speak for relatives for which I know the full story. When faced with the issue, at least here, you have two choices. The psychologist will talk you into a lifestyle change whenever possible.
Going to a psychologist is still considered medication here, and it's covered by national health. When going to a psychiatrist instead, the medication (chemical) is almost always guaranteed.
It's helpful to say though that no amount of medication fixes mental health issues related to workplace issues if the underlying cause is not removed. This is a very dramatic issue, as for some people with limited working experience (and thus unable to have a leverage), it's often insurmountable. I known relatives in this situation for 20+ years.
This had nothing to do with "mental health" it was just part of keeping people happy and not letting their work dictate their lives.
For example being bullied or having unreasonable expectations with some kind of negative reinforcement loop.
Certainly doesn't sound like the case at the company in the article. But that CEO sounds exceptional.
We also need to address treating employees as humans not workproduct producing AWS instances.
One of the things I like about our unlimited/flexible vacation policy is that I don't have to justify time off and can take it at short notice. I think there's quite a spectrum from "vacation for an event", through "vacation to relax" to "time off for burnout" and finally to "sick days for mental health" – I don't think there are clear cut lines between some of these. I tend to take relatively short notice days off to relax and recharge after stressful periods, and while I call it a vacation day, it's probably much closer to this. Unlimited vacation policies get a lot of criticism, but I see this as a big benefit.
At a company i worked there was a guy who did that. He got away with it but he was a very senior programmer.
If i tried this i would have to worry about them using it as grounds for a firing.
For me, it's video games. A good video game relaxes me like nothing else. Of course, that depends on there being a good video game that I haven't already played out.
Books can also do it for me, to a lesser extent. I also have other hobbies, mostly involving creating things like papercraft or models, that will help de-stress me.
The worst is when I spend too much time playing games and start to feel guilty about not doing other things. It's a downward spiral because the thing that relaxes me is now causing me additional stress.
The real solution is, of course, to find the real stress and reduce it directly. That's not always possible, but there's usually something that can be done.
What is a problem are people mental issues creating trouble for others. It can get compounded by bosses looking the other way as results are coming in so there is no problem. Except the costs were externalized to the team around them.
But, if this is genuinely how they treat mental health; they deserve all the free marketing they may get.
I'm not even certain a just, enlightened society would require people with mental disorders to work in an office!
I read your comment as saying essentially "ok, it's business as usual, and hasn't yet changed", i.e., acknowledging a fact, and possibly acknowledging that it's likely to continue in the future (which is true).
I read their message as saying the same as you say, but also stating a value judgment - i.e. that it should be considered weird that hasn't changed, that it should have been changed ages ago (definitely before 2017), and that it should be considered unacceptable if it continues in the future. Which is quite a different story about the same facts, and this part of the story is efficiently implied by the short prefix "It's 2017 but..".
With all of this some people still find it tricky to disclose their mental ill health to their employers.
now, moving on to the rest of the post: of course it's still an issue. taking sick time for any reason is still an issue. everyone feels the pressure to not be sick, to not take sick time, and to work while sick. i have never worked for any organization where this was not the case-- even in some good places that were good to their workers-- and have only escaped it by working for myself.
>It’s 2017. I cannot believe that it is still controversial to speak about mental health in the workplace when 1 in 6 americans are medicated for mental health.
you see, mental health is more of a threat than "physical" health. you get better from having a cold. you sniffle through a few days of work, maybe take a day at home, then sniffle through another day or two, and the lost productivity stops.
the spectre of mental health is that it is a long term sap on an employee's productivity that will also have flare-ups which result in time taken off, total work stoppage, malingering, unreliability, and bad morale. and it can't really be "cured" just treated. it's the profit seeking organization's nightmare. they'd never hire someone mentally ill, if they could reliably avoid being sued for their discrimination.
>It’s 2017. I cannot believe that it is still controversial to offer paid sick leave.
only in the blisteringly backwards and proudly ignorant USA is it controversial. we are far behind the rest of the world when it comes to labor rights and treating people like human beings.
elsewhere the issue is settled definitively. to be blunt the CEOs haven't done their part in fighting for this basic right, nor has the government, nor have the workers. everyone has too much to lose by being the one to push, so nobody pushes.
>Our jobs require us to execute at peak mental performance. When an athlete is injured they sit on the bench and recover. Let’s get rid of the idea that somehow the brain is different.
the difference is that an athlete ages out of being competitive after a time, and so their profit-driven self-infliction of injury ends earlier.
workers are stressed by work for most of their lives, for most of the hours of their waking day. work is far more detrimental to people's brains than being an athlete is to the body.
oh yeah, and workers can't choose when to stop, unless they want to choose to stop eating too. to be blunt there's no way that american workers could possibly operate at peak mental performance with their mental scaffolding so occupied with maintaining job security. this causes mental illness too, of course.
name a bigger stressor for people than their jobs / money.
>Take some time this week to express gratitude to individuals on your team. You might be surprised at the positive impact.
this is a bare minimum, not part of any solution.
the real solution (which won't be implemented because it is expensive) is to have an iron law in your corporation that your employees must take X paid sick days per year or per month. it's that simple.
then it won't be an issue, because it'll be a policy that people are forced to follow. there's no guilt about taking sick days for any health reason at that point. nobody feels like they're being dead weight when they take a sick day.
>Take some time to reflect on how your company’s values help create a safe-space for your teammates
this is more likely to be lip service or self-deception at most companies than it is a reality. most companies value profit, and act accordingly when that value contradicts the health of their employees because their employees are replaceable.
>1 in 6 of whom is likely medicated for a mental health issue.
this should tell us that our society is violently unhealthy for our minds, as is our work culture.
and they are.
As someone who has struggled with mental health myself in the past, I'm kind of wary of the whole "let's reduce depression down to how we would treat a broken arm." argument. While it's good intentioned, and I totally agree we need to reduce its stigma in society, I wonder if it does more harm then good in the long run.
Depression is a disease of the soul, and I think it is so deeply embedded in the human experience that we can't just compare it to a physical ailment. I agree you shouldn't define yourself by a mental illness, but it no doubt deeply affects how you perceive and think about the world, sometimes for worse, but also in my experience, for the better. Good employers take this into account, although i think it happens more on a employee-manager relationship level than through organizational rules. But culture helps a lot.
I think we should broach the topic of depression as a society with deep care, empathy, and patience, recognizing how enormous and fundamental it is to the human experience. To compare it to a physical ailment is restrictive and a bit reductive. (If you can't tell, I think the biochemical causes of depression are a bit overemphasized in today's society.) We will be less frustrated at the lack of progress if we understand the enormity and complexity of the problem.
this is actually "necessary" in the sense that it prevents discussion of other equally substantive depression-causing things such as a precarious lifestyle contingent upon retaining paid employment.
put differently: depression is multifactorial, but the medical consensus is that it's connected to anxiety. and anxiety, while also biochemical and genetic, is in large part caused by external factors.
but if we admit that external factors cause anxiety and thereby depression, we admit that the very jobs we're afraid to take time off from to tend to our depression are in fact causing us to be depressed in the first place. and for the american culture, this reality cannot be voiced-- it's antithetical to capitalism as we practice it.
finally: talking about mental illness at work is a surefire way to find yourself unemployed or longlisted for a promotion. this adds an additional level of furtiveness to those who are already mentally ill, which makes their issues worse.
whether or not someone has a genetic predisposition to mental illness or not-- and many likely do-- a good work culture can make things either a bit easier, or much harder.
Probably because of the toxic tone.
There is definitely a stigma around mental illness.
In Sweden there is a law on the national level - "the vacation law" that governs the minimum amount of vacation an employee can have in a year. See https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/svensk-f... (Sorry, I couldn't find an English translation).
It's a bit like your suggestion only with "sick days" replaced with "vacation days" and "corporation" replaced with "country". You mentioned that the US was far behind the rest of the world in labor rights. This law was issued in 1977. ;-)
We are very likely to say that a person has "changed" if we uncover information that affects how we perceive their trustworthiness (for instance, being caught lying) as opposed to other types of behavior. Mental illness is similarly believed to affect the core of an individual's nature.
Most people will judge you if you call in and say "I am experiencing extreme anxiety this morning and I'm afraid of leaving the house, so I won't be coming in today." So instead you shoot your coworkers/boss an email or a text that says "Hey, I'm not feeling well today. I don't want to get you guys sick!" Because that makes you seem caring and thoughtful instead of a weak coward who can't handle the stress of real life.
Even people with "serious problems" have to pay the bills.
*Edit: I just realized that when you said there might be a more serious problem you might have meant that the employer is not offering enough vacation days. If that is what you meant, then I'm sorry for unfairly maligning you with my last line.