Recognising Mental Illness

13 September, 2022

24 August, 2022

By Julia Busquets

Now that the conversation has been started and we know what is mental health and a mental illness, lets take a little look at the most common of mental illnesses:  bipolar, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder.  Although there are more, we will focus primarily on these for the purposes of simplicity and how they are more easily supported and managed within the workplace.

Bipolar disorder. causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).

The two main types of bipolar disorder are bipolar 1 disorder and bipolar 2 disorder.  Symptoms can cause unpredictable changes in mood and behaviour, resulting in significant distress and difficulty in life.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness triggered by experiencing trauma. It causes serious symptoms that can become debilitating. You may struggle with PTSD and be unable to control your emotions and outbursts, avoid frightening thoughts, or even control flashbacks to trauma that feel very real.

Depression involves low mood and/or loss of interest and pleasure in usual activities, as well as other symptoms.

Anxiety is the mind and body’s reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations. It’s the sense of uneasiness, distress, or dread you feel before a significant event.

Borderline personality disorder affects people’s thoughts, emotions and behaviours, making it difficult for them to cope in all areas of life.

So, can these people work?  YES

Many people with bipolar disorder find they do best in a quiet, relaxed workspace where they can easily concentrate.  Effective treatments for PTSD help those manage symptoms and are able to go back to work.  Depression and anxiety can make work more challenging, however they can still be productive. It just requires self-acceptance and open communication within your professional circle.

It is a complex area, because no two people will suffer the same and each will present their symptoms differently, but we can help workplaces to manage and thus help those with a mental illness to retain and remain in their jobs.