Job application discrimination and mental illness

Recently I’ve applied for a number of library government positions in southern Oregon where I’m fairly sure I met the minimum requirements but was never even asked for an interview. The basic requirements were the following: a high school degree and some experience working in a library.I wonder if there is some way to report discrimination at the level of a job application if it was due to age, mental illness(I admitted a disability) or gaps in employment? I have a recent seven-year gap in employment due to illness of parents and self. My father had heart problems and died in 2011 and my mother has dementia since 2009 due to a stroke. I additionally experienced a psychotic episode in 2010. During that period( 2010 – 2017) I volunteered for two years in a college library, assisted a person with research on a book and have taken care of my mother who has a moderate level of dementia.

Since I have a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry/Psychology, five years experience working in a library(OHSU/ Lewis and Clark) and two years experience supporting systematic type health reviews in the Portland VA, I feel more than qualified for a position that could be filled by some one with lower qualifications. I have also applied for some office assistant positions at a university which I’m sure I met the minimum qualifications but was never even asked for an interview. I think my gaps in employment in addition to age ( which can easily be looked up) prevented an interview. I think when employers see large gaps they sense something is wrong health and or personality wise. I love how people are angry at the unemployed/disabled while at the same time discriminating unjustly against them. An excerpt from a medscape article  and a second article summarizes it best.

Work is a major determinant of mental health and a socially integrating force that is highly valued. No single social activity conveys more of a sense of self-worth and social identity than work. To be excluded from the workforce not only creates material deprivation but also erodes self-confidence, creates a sense of isolation and marginalization and is a key risk factor for mental disability.

“Once they heard that word that’s it. Sometimes I think it’s worse than telling them you’ve been in jail. Once you mention that their face changes and their body language changes and you know you won’t get the job”.

“I applied for a government job and they said the mental state wasn’t quite what they were looking for.”

I believe that discrimination due to mental illness was at play also when I lost my last position with the VA. I overheard conversations toward the end about me which strongly hinted that my health was problematic and that they needed to be cautious about getting rid of me. This came from a medical doctor who should be more enlightened on the topic. In the end, they gave much of my work to an intern who was doing it for free and when I protested my position was eliminated.

Is there any recourse here? Obviously if one reports discrimination he/she will probably not get the position or even if he/she did probably wouldn’t want to work there because of potential retaliation. This issue bothers me on principle and also obviously for financial reasons. Reporting employers like this would feel like time well spent but in the long-term might be bad strategy. I think employers know this and this is why this crap persists.

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The boundaries of mental illness

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Isn’t everyone a little mentally ill? This seems to be the prevailing idea on my FB feed via memes. One of these memes says, ” relax…we’re all crazy, its not a competition”. When I see this I feel annoyed but at the same time I wonder is there a clear boundary between normal and abnormal? As someone who has experienced psychotic depression, OCD and Dysthymia I’m annoyed because that large of a spectrum invalidates my difficulty to a large degree. I think these people mean well because they are trying to include me as normal but on the other hand  saying that I don’t have much to complain about. Continue reading “The boundaries of mental illness”

Distinguishing low mood from major depression

 

I think there is still much confusion between depression(normal mood) and major depression and so I thought I would share my thoughts on how I distinguish one from the other. How I distinguish normal moods from major depression:copy-download.jpg

  • Normal moods usually last a fairly short time and are less severe– often less than a day. Major depression is a moderate to severe depressed mood for at minimum two weeks. Moderate to severe often means thinking about suicide quite a bit.
  • With a normal mood one can often tie it to something that has happened or a given thought
  •  The mood within major depression is often connected to the circadian rhythms. Often people feel worse in the morning(often suicidal) and their mood improves in the evening
  • Distraction will often work with normal moods but not with major depression
  • The depressed mood in major depression is often accompanied with severe fatigue(bedridden), lack of motivation, disrupted appetite, lack of pleasure, cognitive problems, and excessive sleepiness/insomnia
  • Major depression affects your ability to function on a basic level. Good hygiene seems optional for people who normal have good hygiene

Antipsychiatrists who could be referred to as “lumpers” don’t make the above distinctions. They believe everyone experiences depression which is true but not everyone experiences moderate to severe depression that lasts more than two weeks and is accompanied by other symptoms. They also argue that the criteria that distinguish major depression are arbitrary which is also true but many distinctions in life are to a degree arbitrary and yet are still respected. I , a “splitter”, sometimes wish that they would come up with a new name for major depression so it wouldn’t constantly be confused with a normal low mood.