Stigma still abounds

It's Mental Health Week, and new research says stigma towards mental illness is still rife among employers

Stigma still abounds
Stigma still abounds

October 10, 2012

Research commissioned by not-for-profit employment services provider, WISE Employment, points to mental illness as a bigger barrier to employment than a physical disability.

The survey reveals only one in three Australians would consider employing a person who has a mental illness, with half of the respondents believing they could be unreliable and disruptive in the workplace.

To coincide with this week’s Mental Health Week, WISE Employment is launching the ‘Empowermental’ campaign aimed at breaking down the stigma, encouraging Australian businesses to consider employing a person with a mental illness.

WISE Employment General Manager Matthew Lambelle says the research results highlight widespread negative perceptions of mental illness that don’t match reality.

"There is a distinct lack of understanding about mental health issues, which fuels stigma and causes some employers to shy away from hiring people with mental illness," Lambelle says.

"The research reveals an underlying assumption among employers that mental illness will inhibit job performance, when in fact the two are not linked. A person with a mental illness can be the best person for the job," Lambelle says.

The research, conducted by McNair Ingenuity Research amongst small and medium enterprises (SMEs), also reveals 74 percent of organisations have employed someone with a mental illness, describing the experience as ‘positive’ or ‘very positive.’

The Empowermental campaign will run through October, aiming to educate employers about the cost-free support that is available to them if they hire a person who has a mental illness.

"Our research shows almost half of those surveyed indicated they would be willing to give a person with a mental illness a go if they had outside support available to them," Lambelle says.

"WISE Employment works with many jobseekers with mental illness and provides ongoing support to employers and jobseekers after placing people into employment."

Employers wanting more information about the Empowermental campaign can log on to

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