2021.10.10

Breaking down the hidden stigma of mental health career gaps

Much has been done to reduce the stigma and taboo of poor mental health, but in working life there is still a ‘culture of silence’ 

40% of the UK population experience mental illness and 300,000 people lose their

job every year due to mental health conditions , leading to career gaps

Mindler lead psychologist Dr. Siobhan Jones talks about some of the ways employees can reduce the stigma and confidently #OwnTheGap in their career 

London – October 2021: There is no doubt that much has been done to broadly reduce the stigma of poor mental health, but in the working world, there is often still a culture of silence and shame that can impact an individual’s wellbeing and career. 

As a result, Mindler, has today announced a new campaign #OwnTheGap, aiming to encourage people who have had to take a career break due to mental health to confidently take control of this gap and not hide it from existing or future employers. 

Many people feel they need to hide their mental illness in fear of what employers or colleagues will think due to stigma, even sometimes needing to take time off work on a long-term basis. 

Mindler lead psychologist Dr. Siobhan Jones says: “If you need to take time off work for mental health reasons, you may have concerns about how to report this on your CV in the future – how do you explain this? What will potential new employers think of you and your ability to perform?” 

According to NHS England1, 40% of the population experience mental illness. Additionally, as many as 300,000 people even lose their job every year due to their mental health2, says an independent government-commissioned review, meaning that thousands of people will be left with a gap. Siobhan recognises that a career gap may impact people when trying to return to the workplace: “You may be worrying about missed opportunities, promotions, feel less confident in your abilities, and feel nervous about returning to the workplace, or even attending interviews.”

Ahead of World Mental Health Day, this is something that digital psychologist service Mindler is choosing to highlight for the #OwnTheGap campaign. The purpose of #OwnTheGap is to get more people to share their experiences of mental illness in order to help reduce the stigma in the workplace. Individuals are encouraged to update their LinkedIn profile with any gaps, and share this with their network. 

But how do you explain this gap when interviewing for a new job? Siobhan provides her top tips on owning the gap: 

Be honest: “If you have a gap in your career, be honest and model this honesty for others. If this seems overwhelming to talk about in an interview setting, try practicing what you would say to a supportive friend.” 

Don’t feel ashamed: “You shouldn’t need to feel embarrassed about needing to take some time out. There can be times that the pressures of work and ignoring these pressures could lead to burnout. The impact of burnout can be significant and take a long time to recover from.” 

Recognise the benefits of a career gap: “Taking time out can reduce the risk of burnout and show employers that you’re self-aware enough to know when to look after yourself and what your stress signs and triggers are.” 

Focus on your strengths: Having a mental health condition does not make you a poor employee. Talk about what makes you great, what sets you apart and how your skills align with the job description.” 

What should employers bear in mind? 

Siobhan warns employers to be cautious about making wrong assumptions and discarding those who have gaps in their CV. “Be gently curious about why there is a gap and what the candidate learned during this time rather than focussing on the difficulties that took place. 

“It is those who have been through difficulties that are more likely to be resilient. By making assumptions and not hiring or noticing those candidates that have a CV gap, you are not helping stigma to be broken. This is everyone’s responsibility.” adds Siobhan. 

References

1 NHS (2019). NHS England» Mental health. [online] England.nhs.uk. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/mental-health/.

2 Stevenson and Farmer (2017). Thriving at work The Stevenson / Farmer review of mental health and employers. [online] Available at: 

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/658 145/thriving-at-work-stevenson-farmer-review.pdf. 


Mindler is available at mindler.co.uk and by downloading from the App Store or
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For more information about Mindler, please visit:
mindler.co.uk

ENDS

Notes to editors
About Mindler
Mindler is a digital healthcare provider specialising in mental health. Mindler provides
access to quick, effective treatment through an app, where patients can book video
call sessions with psychologists.


The treatment model, called ‘blended treatment’ is a combination of 25 minute video
call sessions with psychologists and iCBT programmes, which are available on the
app. The programmes consist of exercises that enable the patient to continue their
treatment outside of sessions, and can either be completed independently or with
the help of a psychologist.

Mindler was founded in 2018 by two psychologists, Rickard Färdig and Johannes
Hatem and one medical doctor / tech entrepreneur Rickard Lagerqvist, in Sweden,
and currently operates in Sweden, France, the Netherlands and now the UK.


About iCBT
iCBT is internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy. Between psychologist
appointments, Mindler offers patients the opportunity to continue their treatment
outside sessions by completing iCBT programmes in their own time. All programmes
are available to patients after their first appointment with a psychologist.
The psychologist can be involved all the way, unless the patient decides to do a
programme by themselves.

References

  1. Ons.gov.uk. 2021. Coronavirus and depression in adults, Great Britain – Office for National Statistics. [online]
    www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing/articles/
    coronavirusanddepressioninadultsgreatbritain/januarytomarch2021 [Accessed 10 May 2021].