Workplace Effects of the Stigmatization of Depression

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Employers have previously been shown to hold negative attitudes toward mental illness.1 The purpose of this survey of human resource officers in UK companies was to ascertain whether these attitudes prejudice employment opportunities for subjects with mental illness-specifically, depression-and, if so, some of the beliefs upon which these attitudes are based. When employers were given vignettes of job applicants identical except for diagnosis, a label of depression significantly reduced the chances of employment, compared with one of diabetes, despite both being seen as equally credible illnesses. This stigmatization is based upon perceptions of potential poor work performance, rather than expectations of future absenteeism, but is not concordant with previous research. It is suggested that greater dissemination of information may alleviate some of this stigma.

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