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Mental Disorder and Employment

Discriminació laboral

Illustration © Sergi Balfegó

The proportion of people who suffer now or in future a mental disorder reaches 25% of the population, according to World Health Organization. Necessarily, among so many people, a wide variety of circumstances can be found. But one fact is clear: having a mental disorder does not mean being lazy. Because many of us have a job, and access to the standard job market. And, of the ones who do not work, there are two groups: those who could do it, if they had adequate support, and those who cannot.

Work dignifies people, this is a reality. I think that making something useful, earning one’s living is one of the best possible therapies. The barriers are society prejudices and the lack of Centres of Special Work. We personally know cases of dismissals, workers left in the street, due to their employers having found of the mental health problem of the employees. Adding to this, statistics say many businesses would not even grant a job interview to a person undergoing a mental disorder. This leaves us defenceless in life.

Moreover, if in times of prosperity, Centres of Special Work are scarce, now crisis is making things much worse. And it is a real shame, because, for society as much as for us, best thing that may happen is that we work.

There are also people whose bad situation prevents them from working. Pensions are necessary in these cases, and are a way out in a society that discriminates us. But often they are so meagre that they do not meet the minimum needs. By giving us four hundred euros per month, they think they can forget us.

Volunteerism is OK. But it would be much better we received a salary for our work. Working for a decent pay would be the solution for many problems of many of us. But if someone with an university degree and with no health problems has difficulties finding a job, for us it is much harder.

It would be advisable for organizations working in mental health area to employ people belonging to our collective. For instance, the person giving you an appointment in a Center of Mental Health could be one of us, or perhaps the visiting psychologist could be one who had gone through a depression. Or one could get some money for participating in a campaign like “Obertament”.

We do not want to be the forgotten ones. We do not want to be left in the wayside like useless junk. We are full right members of society. And we want to live with dignity. If possible, earning our livings with our own effort.

Fèlix Rozey


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