The lives of people with mental illness are complicated. The struggle with mental illness and its symptoms, hinder ones’ path to social integration, occupy a prominent place in the daily lives. For people living between two realities, work remains the last priority, to which the stigma of others contributes. The mentally ill remain isolated from society, and the reluctance of companies and organizations to employ them further disadvantages them.
The places where they could work are scarce, but the fear of not being accepted is significant. The lack of belonging can be painful, and the fear of “the new” – repulsive. In a society with negative social attitudes, the mentally ill people are victims of misunderstanding.
When we view the mentally ill through negative stereotypes, a lack of sufficient information and bias, we risk making them feel unwanted, ridiculous, rejected and even unnecessary, which can hurt them and make them refuse to fight for themselves.
It is hard to be different because it makes you feel distanced from others, and the constant struggle between asserting your own identity and being accepted by society is what many people with mental health problems have to deal with.
Not all of them find the courage and motivation needed to take the first step towards integration into a working environment. We have no right to judge their indecision until we change and learn how we work with them, realizing that they deserve our help and support.
They need our humanity, our tolerance and empathy so that they can feel accepted and confident in their efforts to become part of us – our colleagues and friends.
In order to fight the stigma of which people with mental illness are victims, we need to talk openly about mental health and be informed about the existence of mental illness so that we can develop a correct approach to them and communicate without affecting them with our attitude or tone.
Integrating people with mental health problems into a working environment is a long and multi-component process that we have the task of initiating. Each of us needs to develop our approach to people with differences and strive to help them incorporate.