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Incidence of Mental Illness in Australian Workplaces Essay

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Updated: May 13th, 2021

Mental illness is a disease of the mind

Mental Illness refers to a disease that affects the way the mind functions. It is divided into two categories. These categories include depression and anxiety disorders and psychotic Illness. Depression and anxiety disorders are characterized by depression, feelings of sadness, and fear. These feelings affect a person to the extent that he cannot cope with his daily activities efficiently. Psychotic Illness, on the other hand, reflects schizophrenia disorder. This Illness affects the thinking ability and behavior of a person. Severe incidences of psychotic Illness make a person lose connection with reality. Hallucinations are also brought about by this disease (State Government of Victoria, 2012). This paper will therefore discuss the incidence of Mental Illness in Australian workplaces and evaluate why many employees prefer to keep mental Illness hidden.

In a survey carried out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it is true that mental illnesses have become widespread in Australia. From the survey, it is true that approximately 20 percent of Australians who are aged between 16 and 85 years have at one time experienced an incidence of mental disorder. Mental illnesses and disorders are treated as types of disabilities, and they negatively impact the performance of the Australian economy. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare is endowed with the responsibility of collecting data relating to mental illnesses in various companies across the country in order to determine the influence that the illnesses have on the productivity of people in those companies (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008). The organization also pays attention to the mental care services that workplaces adopt in order to help reduce cases of mental illnesses among employees.

The organization normally publishes the information relating to mental illnesses on its website so that it would be possible for policymakers in the region to review the various causes of mental illnesses in the region, thus enabling them to come up with measures that would help reduce the consequences of mental illnesses in the workplaces. The organization has been effective in terms of analyzing reports relating to the burden that mental illnesses bring to the workplaces in the country. The Mental Health Service in Australia also analyzes the activities that the Australia Institute of Health and Welfare undertakes to ensure that cases of mental illnesses in workplaces are addressed on time before they get out of hand (Cooper, 1997).

Since the organization also publishes this information online, it becomes possible for medical professionals as well as policymakers to understand the impact that mental illnesses have on the productivity of organizations. Mental disorders are known to significantly interfere with a person’s social and emotional state. They influence the manner in which a person relates with other people in the workplace. A person with mental Illness is not capable of relating with other employees effectively within the work environment because he is not capable of making relevant contributions to the operations of an organization (Friedman, 2009). There are those people who operate in organizations while having a mental illness. Most of these people are normally aware that they have mental illnesses, but they cannot admit it to the management of the organization for fear of losing their jobs (Hedgcoth, 2012). There is also a different group of people who are not aware of whether they have any mental disorders. Such people, therefore, continue operating in their places of work normally.

Though some of those people engage in activities that are contrary to the will of the organization that they work for, they do not agree with the idea that they have any mental disorders. They believe that they are normal, just like other people who work in the organization. As a result, they do not appreciate any person who tells them that they have any mental disorders because doing so only makes such people be violent in the workplace. Mental illnesses are rampant in that approximately 20 percent of adults in Australia have at one time experienced a mental disorder in their lives (Friedman, 2009). This percentage is significantly large, thereby confirming that there are a large number of people who have mental illnesses yet they continue to work in their respective organizations. The various types of mental disorders that are common to people in organizations include anxiety and depression. These disorders are observed to affect a person simultaneously. It has also been noted that every year 20,000 Australians experience mental illness. As a result, approximately 3 million Australians experience depressive illnesses in their life (Meredith, 2011). In addition, approximately 5 percent of Australians experience anxiety, which has been observed to cripple the activities that they undertake in their places of work (NEON, 2012).

Mental Illness in adults

Mental illnesses have been reported to affect a large number of adults in Australia. It is said that approximately 45 percent of adults in Australia experience incidences of mental illness in their lives. Most of the affected people are in the working class. These illnesses are also connected to alcohol use and substance abuse. As a result, such people are more likely to experience medical disorders compared to those people who do not use the drugs (Counselling Directory, 2012). The numbers of people who have long-term mental illnesses and disorders were observed to increase consistently between 1995 and 2005. With the increase in the number of mental disorders, most organizations in Australia are now worried that there are very high chances of employing people who have a history of mental disorders, thus bringing down the productivity of the organizations (Cooper, 1997).

The issue of mental illness in Australia has been high to the extent that mental disability was regarded as one of the factors that made people lose their healthy lives between 2004 and 2005. It has also been stipulated that the people who have ever experienced mental Illness are also likely to experience other types of mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. These two disorders affect a person simultaneously. The employers have therefore been very cautious while hiring employees who have ever experienced any form of mental disorder (Hedgcoth, 2012). This is because there are chances that such people would also experience other forms of mental disorders such as stress and anxiety, thereby significantly lowering the level of productivity of the person. This would then lower the productivity of the entire organization significantly.

Issues such as unemployment are known to affect the mental state of people. People who are unemployed are the ones who are said to report high incidences of mental disorders. For example, it has been noted that 26 percent of unemployed men and 34 percent of unemployed women are likely to experience mental disorders. However, this rate drops once people manage to secure jobs. For example, the prevalence rate of mental disorders for employed men and women is 15.1 percent for men and 14.7 percent for women (Meredith, 2011). Therefore, as employers look for people to employ in their organizations, they mostly encourage people who have prior work experience to apply. This is because people who have ever secured employment opportunities are not likely to have suffered mental disorders.

Mental Illness is ranked as the number three illness which overburdened the Australian economy. Mental Illness is, therefore, an issue that has been observed to bring down the performance of organizations in Australia because people with mental illnesses demand a lot of medical attention. The burden associated with mental illness is said to have more impact than cancer (Response Ability, 2009). It is, therefore, true that mental illness is an issue that demands a lot of resources from the Australian economy, thereby making employers be very cautious while selecting employees to work in their organizations. They do this to ensure that they reduce costs of operation while trying to cater to the needs of mentally ill people working in the organizations. For example, between 2005 and 2006, most of the hospitalization cases were associated with mental disorders. This accounted for approximately 4.4 percent of the hospitalization cases in Australia. The number of deaths that result from mental disorders has been on the decline since the 1990s (Youde, 2010).

The case of mental disorders is severe in Australia. It has been noted that if a stroke or cancer patient has mental Illness, he is likely to stay in the hospital four times longer than a patient who does not have any mental illness. As a result, it is important for employers in Australia to ensure that they screen a person for any mental illness in order to ensure that a mentally ill person does not make an organization incur huge costs when he is hospitalized.

Mental Illness among young people

The issue of mental Illness is more prevalent among young people. Most cases of mental Illness are observed in young people aged between 18 to 24 years. It has been noted that people who have developed schizophrenia experience symptoms of mental Illness while in their late teen years. More than one-third of the people who are admitted to hospitals because of mental illnesses are aged less than 30 years (TAMHSS, 2010). This is because depression is one of the common health conditions that affect young people. The rate of depression is said to increase as a person approaches adolescence. In addition, the use of drugs to treat young people should be done with care because there are certain complications that arise in young people when they are being diagnosed.

Young people are said to be more prone to mental illnesses than older people. In 2007, for example, approximately 26 percent of young people aged between16-24 years had been diagnosed with a mental disorder. However, only 5.9 percent of people who were aged 75 years and above were diagnosed with the condition. In young children, the rate of mental problems was equal between the two genders. In 2003, it was observed that mental disorders among young children increased the burden of the diseases that affected young children (TAMHSS, 2010).

The income level of people also plays a big role in terms of making the incidences of mental disorders to be more prevalent. For example, incidences of mental disorders are observed to affect the people who come from low-income groups in the country. In addition, the children who live with single parents have also been observed to develop incidences of mental disorders. For example, 10.6 percent of females and 11.3 percent of males who come from single families tend to developmental disorders much faster compared to those adolescents who have both parents (Mental Health Works, 2012). It has also been observed that for every four adolescents who have been reported to have experienced mental disorders, there are chances that one of them had received help from a health care professional.

It is important for counselors and pediatricians to intervene in the mental disorders facing young people and try to provide services that would enable them to recover from the disorders. It is also important for schools to ensure that they hire counselors who would give counseling services to students who have mental problems. This would make it easy to handle mental disorder issues before they become complex. It has been noted that not all people with mental disorders are able to receive professional help. The mental health of such people, therefore, keeps deteriorating. It is said that only 50 percent of young people are able to gain access to professional medical care (Counselling Directory, 2012). Most of the parents who are unable to take their children to professionals argue that the prices of their services are very high for them to afford.

Many adolescents who have mental problems have been known to report suicidal thoughts. They also engage in other dangerous activities such as drug abuse and smoking. For example, 4.2 percent of young adolescents aged between13 and 17 years have been said to attempt suicide (Meredith, 2011). In this context, females are the ones who have high chances of engaging in suicide.

Mental Illness and gender

The rates of mental disorders are similar for men and women. However, in case men and women live independently, the rates of mental disorders are high in men than in women. The rates of mental disorders are also high among people who have engaged in divorce and lower for married people. Women are also highly prone to depression and anxiety, while men are likely to engage in substance abuse. It has been noted that men have higher chances of engaging in substance abuse than women. The chances that a man would engage in substance abuse are 7.1 percent, while the rate for women is 3.3 percent. The influence of drug abuse, therefore, makes men be at a higher chance of experiencing medical disorders than women. On the other hand, women have higher rates of experiencing depression than men. Women have a 5.1 percent rate of experiencing depression and anxiety while men have a 3.1 percent rate.

The different cultures in Australia also influence the issue of mental disorders between males and females (Australian Insitute of Health and Welfare, 2008). There are certain cultures where women are regarded as weak. The men are very strong in such cultures. As a result, the rate of mental disorders is high in women than it is in men. In such cultures, therefore, women are feared to be more prone to mental disorders in their places of work.

Why Employees with mental Illness keep it hidden

There are various reasons why employees hide information regarding their mental state. Many employees normally hide their psychiatric condition from their employers and colleagues because they fear that they would lose their jobs once they reveal the true information. They also fear that they would be subjected to discrimination by their colleagues. The people working within the organization would not be able to relate effectively with them because they would regard them as crazy. Since no one likes being associated with crazy people, people with mental disorders would not be willing to disclose their condition for fear that they would be left alone.

It is not possible for a person with mental Illness to secure a job. Many employers do not know how they can deal with mental illness cases in the workplace. They just focus their attention on the value that a person can bring to an organization. Therefore, the moment a person ceases being productive within the organization, employers have no choice but to relieve them of their duties. It is, however, not possible for the employer to know that a person is mentally ill if his condition is not very severe. During this time, even the other employees would not easily notice that a person has a mental disorder. However, with time, the condition becomes more severe to the extent that the employer and the co-workers begin to notice. In such a situation, therefore, the person is relieved of his duties from the organization because the employer cannot risk leaving his organization in the hands of an incapable person. People with mental Illness are therefore subjected to the stigma the moment other employees learn about their condition. Most people who have mental problems such as depression, phobias, schizophrenia, and anxiety are regarded as ineffective and inefficient and cannot manage to handle any task assigned to them fully. As a result, no employer would be willing to work with such people.

Losing a job is a very critical issue because the job might be the one that was enabling the person to sustain himself and his family. When a person is declared to be mentally ill, he would be chased away from work. This means that his family would no longer be able to receive financial support. As a result, many people with mental Illness are not willing to let their employers know about their condition so that they can be able to keep providing their families with all the basic. The reputation of a person is also very important. When a person is announced to be mentally ill, people would forget about his good reputation and avoid interacting with him in any way. This would make the person to be regarded as meaningless in society.

Friends mean a lot to a person in times of need. People, therefore, establish friendship ties so that they can assist each other in times of need. However, when a person is declared to be mentally ill, his friends start running away in order to avoid being associated with the person. This is because a mentally ill person is regarded as worthless in society and cannot be able to make any reasonable decisions.

Disclosing information about one’s Illness may also create tension between the employer and the employee. This is because the employer would not be sure about how to relate with a mentally ill person. In this context, the employer is normally afraid that he can do something which can make the employee be more ill. The employer would therefore relieve such an employee of his duties in order to minimize the risks of making him more ill.

Reference List

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008, National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing of Australians: Summary of Results, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.

Australian Insitute of Health and Welfare 2008, Australia’s Health 2008, Australian Insitute of Health and Welfare, Canberra.

Cooper, G 1997, Many forced to hide mental illness at work, Web.

Counselling Directory 2012, Employees with mental health issues hide their problems, Web.

Friedman, S 2009, , Web.

Hedgcoth, C H 2012, Hiding Behind a Secret: The Stigma of the Mentally Ill, Web.

Mental Health Works 2012, Do I have to tell my employer that I’m ill? Web.

Meredith, F 2011, Mental illness affects many people, so why hide from it? Web.

NEON 2012, From the National Conversation about Work, Web.

Response Ability 2009, Mental Illness Facts and Statistics, Web.

State Government of Victoria 2012, Mental Illness Explained, Web.

TAMHSS 2010, Transform Australia’s Mental Health Services, Web.

Youde, K 2010, , Web.

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