Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Mental illness: the last great taboo?

For days, now, I’ve been trying to put down in words what I feel about the Christine Laird case, the civil case currently about to create a legal precedent for suing one’s employees if they dare not to reveal that they have a history of mental ill health. I work in mental health, and what I’ve been hearing everywhere is – well, this is a complicated case. Well, if it becomes legally plausible to demand that people declare their mental health history on job applications, hopefully that’ll encourage more people to come out of the closet rather than persuading more of us to lie. Well, maybe she wasn’t doing a very good job anyway.

And I am here to say: I have absolutely no interest in what sort of job Christine Laird was doing. She’s not being sued for doing her job badly, she’s being sued for being a closeted mentalist, something that, in this culture, she had every reason to be. The simple fact is that, faced with a very real prejudice against people with past or present mental health difficulty in the workplace – faced with a situation in which only 40% of employers will even consider employing someone with a mental health difficulty, and only 24% of people with chronic mental health conditions are in work – most of us lie.

I’ve lied. I’ve lied on most of the couple of hundred job and internship applications I’ve filled out in the past year, and I’ve not been invited to interview with any of those where I’ve been honest, not even when I was working in another capacity for the company at the time. If Christine Laird had been hiding the fact that she had a heart condition in order to get a job she was qualified for, would she be being sued now? Doubtful. Current disability laws do not protect workers like Christine Laird who choose to hide mental health conditions for fear of facing prejudice. This means, in my not-so-humble-this-evening, that current disability laws are a steaming crock.

Do I think that being a mentalist is something to be proud of? Of itself, no; I’m no more proud to have mental health problems than I am proud to be short, or that I have straight hair, or a high IQ, or that I’m white. These are inalienable things about me, borne of nature and of nurture. In the same way, in any sane society, being gay shouldn’t have to be something to be ‘proud of’ – but the fact is that living life honestly and successfully as a person of non-heterosexual orientation in this 21st-century world is still a challenge, and one that every queer person who is honest about their sexuality should justly respect themselves for. In just the same way, people struggling with the daily challenges of mental health difficulty should be able to feel proud of themselves for doing so, rather than think of themselves as the state and their families too often characterise them – as dangerous criminals.

The threat of further legal sanctions against the mentally ill frightens and angers me. Ten times I’ve started this post, my fingers hovering above the keys over the phrase ‘I’m not proud to have mental health difficulties’. And I can’t do it.

Because I am proud.

I’m sorry, mum. I’m sorry, dad. I know that in begging me to hide my condition you only want what’s best for me. I know that the way I was born has caused you a great deal of grief, and for that I’m sad and I’m sorry, but I’m not ashamed. In fact, I’m proud as anything to be sitting here today, alive and thriving and dealing both with my mental health problems and the stigma that they have won me, as I ever was when I got my degree, or when I was awarded the top mark in GCSE English in the UK. It’s been a long, hard road, and I’m sad and I’m sorry, but I’m not ashamed.

And if I could ever be honest in a job interview, here’s what I’d tell them. I’m the best candidate you’ll see today, not just because of my creativity or my academic record, but because the challenges I face daily have made me a stronger, better person. I learned more about the world and how to live in it over the 9 months I spent as a psychiatric inpatient than I did in the three years of university that followed. I know about waiting, and frustration, and I know what it’s like to have your dreams ripped away from you and to have to build them again and build them better. In order to make full use of my talents, you may well have to adjust your prejudices as well as your working practices. You may have to allow me time to deal with my condition; you may have to trust me to work to the best of my ability without the marker of 9-5 attendance or constant insufferable smiliness, but you’ll know that every bit of work you’ll get out of it will be my best, because I have something to prove.

I look at the amazing young people I’ve befriended over the last few years, and I see how powerful and beautiful they are, how they constantly support and buoy one another up, despite the fact that in many cases their families and employers don’t or won’t understand what their lives are really like. I look at these young men and women, and I remember the ones we lost too young, and I want more for us than this – more for us than a life begging for treatment that isn’t provided and understanding that isn’t forthcoming and quarter that isn’t given. I look at these beautiful young people, and I worry for their futures. I know that people just like us, people with mental health problems, are today’s disenfranchised, making up 72% of the prison population and a large percentage of the homeless and unemployed. I know that we are barred from holding parliamentary office, shunned by employers and stereotyped by the media. If I have a child, the chances are that with my genetics that child will grow up facing some of the same difficulties that I face. I want my children to have the same opportunities and life chances as anyone else.

No, I will not just buck up. I won’t ‘just buck up’, because I can’t. I’m not a crook, or a scrounger, or lazy; in fact, the nature of my disorder means that I’m far more likely to push myself too hard and work myself into a crash. But I’m sick of being told to just get on with things and be a normal person, because I know that that’s not an option for me and mine, not within definitions of ‘normal’ as they currently stand. I won't buck up, and I won't shut up, because it’s those definitions that need to change, not me – I’m proud to say that I make changes every day to secure my own mental health and continue as a functioning person, and pretending that it’s otherwise is unhelpful, it’s massively unhelpful to me and it’s unhelpful to society. I want to live a long, successful life, and when I’m in my fifties and sixties I want to be saying to the young men and women entering my industry: I did this with a mental health problem, and because of that, for you, it’ll be a little bit easier.

Our laws, our employment structure and our attitudes to mental ill health need to change, and they need to change now. We can no longer afford to keep the millions of citizens with mental health difficulties largely disenfranchised, disaffected, poorly treated and out of useful work adapted to their needs. We can’t afford it morally, and these days we certainly can’t afford it financially. I’m not satisfied with the welfare reform bill being quietly swept under the table; I’m not satisfied with Employment and Support Allowance, with Personal Care Budgets. I will not be satisfied until people with mental health difficulties have the same rights to live and love and work and receive care as people whose needs are different.

85 comments:

  1. You say things so perfectly that you leave me speechless.

    Thank you.

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  2. My one query wd be - is it really impossible to sue somebody for having a heart condition which would endanger their lives/ability to do a job? Surely your point is that people assume - erroneously - that having mental hrealth difficulties would endanger your ability to do the job, whereas as you rightly say it means you can probably do it better?

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  3. Ara - <3 thank you sweetheart.

    SG - currently, you're not required to disclose your medical history on job applications. Laird is being sued for not 'disclosing her disability' - and the argument here is whether a history of depression constitutes a disability. It would be incredibly hard to argue that a history of heart disease constitutes the sort of disability you'd be forced to disclose to your employer - but I'm sure it could be attempted, the civil courts system being what it is.

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  4. The Cat in the Hat12 February 2009 at 07:57

    If you worked in computing you would see examples of diagnosable mental illness in many of your colleagues.

    I work as a software engineer and mathematician. Throughout my relatively short career so far I estimate that about 40% of my workmates exhibit symptoms of the following mental illnesses: Asperger's syndrome, manic depression, hypomania and cyclothemia.

    These "flaws" are generally overlooked because the "high functioning" individuals affected are all genius level, creative and essential members of various project teams. I am not sure that the men and women involved would be able to to their work so well, or even at all, without these mental quirks. These people have not been touched by the Devil but touched by the titans and the gods.

    Why does mental illness exist at all in a Darwinian sense? Couldn't some of the conditions be intertwined with intelligence and the capacity for invention and abstruse thought?

    Couldn't mental illness sometimes actually confer an evolutionary advantage on some individuals of high intelligence?

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  5. Laurie, message sent (via fbook) regarding some contacts who should be getting in touch (if they don't, let me know and I'll chase 'em). There may be a proper campign and lobbying in the pipeline on this, less anodyne than the Time to change stuff (which is appallingly wasteful, and not nation-wide)

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  6. Yea?

    Well, Cat in the Hat, its a lot different to be a middle class or talented person with a mental illness when you get cosseted, tolerated, supported and protected from harm by a wealthy nuclear family or upper echelon of society, but what about the poor mental bastard living in a block of council flats who daily has to struggle to cope, survive and scrape together the coin needed to pay for food, clothing and other utilities on hideously low benefits?

    Mental illness is bad at the best of times but truly fucking awful when you're not particularly intelligent, alone and poor.

    Who the fuck are you anyway?

    Steven Fucking Fry?

    You make me angry.

    Fuck off you privileged cunt!

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  7. *Removes hat*

    Good rant, and I speak as an experienced ranter myself.

    If I have a child, the chances are that with my genetics that child will grow up facing some of the same difficulties that I face.

    This I will add a rider to. For your child, it will be you who chooses how, and among whom, they are raised. It isn't that the last two generations couldn't have helped their children to resist the pressure of mass-media self-consciousness: it's that many of them weren't ever taught how to do it. Many of them managed it anyway.

    Our generation, and the ones coming after us, have had more mistakes to observe, and avoid; and have a tool beyond compare for putting actual normal people in contact with one another. As the old, parochial community links broke down many of the support and monitoring methods of our society were lost. We now have the opportunity to build new ones, of a new kind: linked not by geographical proximity but by community of thought. This will help simply by allowing those of a particular experience to find one another, and share it, so much more easily.

    Cat in the Hat:

    I worked in the internet industry for ten years, and shared exactly the experience you describe. I also saw many of these talented but troubled people forced out of their jobs, either through direct firing or through the steady grinding down of their weakened mental state until they were unemployable, because they didn't fit into the $BigCorp worldview.

    Why does mental illness exist at all in a Darwinian sense? Couldn't some of the conditions be intertwined with intelligence and the capacity for invention and abstruse thought?

    The neurological answer to that is 'well, sort of'.

    The first question: some exist because they don't stop sufferers breeding. Some exist because they do, indeed, confer unusual capacity for some socially valued trait; artists are often a bit odd. And some exist because they aren't subject to physical natural selection, having been largely created or modified out of recognition by conditions that have only existed since 1914.

    Not all mental health problems are physical in origin. The purely psychological ones aren't subject to natural selection, or if they are we have yet to find the Darwin who can accurately describe the process in the psychosphere.

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  8. Thankyou! So wonderfully put!

    Bedlamite - agreeing with you, but oin a different way. I'm an art student with severe mental health problems, and everyone expects me to some kindof creative genius like Van Gogh. As it is i'm currently not highly functional at all, and for the majority of people with mental health problems i expect that is the case. It's only some people with mental health problems who find their condition helps them; for most it's completely debilitating.
    I am priviliged in that i'm from a supportive middle-class family, and i'm so lucky to be in that position. But i would argue that it doesn't make it that much easier to deal with, because even middle-class people can still be really ill.
    I hope i make sense!

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  9. Also, I think people often assume that the strengths people with mental illness (I don't like that term, but "mental difference" sounds so crap and silly) bring are some quirks of personality separate to their mental illness, that they would still have if they didn't have mental illness. Whereas the downsides they easily identify as being due to the mental illness.

    Admittedly, this might be different again for eccentric geniuses (genii?) and particular forms of mental illness like manic depression which are popularly linked with creativity.

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  10. The Cat in the Hat12 February 2009 at 11:37

    I apologise if I have offended anybody with anything in my comment.

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  11. you'll know that every bit of work you'll get out of it will be my best, because I have something to prove.

    Oh, this. That's the whole of my existence summarised right there. Damn right I've got something to prove.

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  12. You've got absolutely no need to apologize The Cat in the Hat. If Bedlamite is offended he can take his offense and stick it up his privileged-enough-to-have-an-internet-connection arse.

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  13. Oddly enough, I'd always assumed I did have to declare my mental health problems, at least whenever there was a health questionnaire to be filled in before attending interview. I was always afraid that if I didn't and it later came out then I could be sacked for it (even if not actually sued).

    Of course, this may be one reason why I have found it so hard to get back into work.

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  14. Screw yourself, Neuroskeptic!

    You're probably another ivory dwelling intellectual cock sucker like Cat in the Hat. People like you can smell your own kind.

    Piss off!

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  15. Bedlamite, there's no need to start personally attacking people on here. You didn't respond properly to Cat In The Hat's initial point, which wasn't that all people with mental illness are privileged geniuses, but that it can *sometimes* be seen as an advantage.

    However, your own initial point is something I'm heartily on board with. I'm sick to the back teeth of people's assumption that all mentally ill people are neurotic geniuses - a lot of us are just trying to get on with our lives.

    Yes, there is some - SOME - correlation between intellectual/creative achievement and mental illness, but not because mental illness is a genetic advantage! Just because gifted people are often troubled, it does not necessarily follow that all troubled people are gifted. Nor should it.

    I don't believe that the 'mentally ill= exceptional and super-special snowflake' argument has any bearing here at all. People with mental illness are just as likely as anyone else to be dim, annoying or just plain boring - that doesn't mean they deserve any fewer civil rights or healthcare provision than mentally healthy people. The mentally ill should not have to 'earn' anyone's respect by all being super-special-genius Stephen-Fryalikes.

    And, plus? I'm a pretty clever person. I resent being told that I'm clever just because I'm mentally ill. I'm clever because I'm clever, thank you very much, and because I was fortunate enough to have good teachers and to grow up reading a great deal.

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  16. Shouldn't the most rewarding and well salaried employment be given to physically able-bodied and mentally healthy individuals rather than doled out, preferentially, positive discrimination-like, to a group of assorted rejects, defects, spasmos and sundry loonies?

    I get sick of all this bleeding-heart jazz where cripples start appearing in films and dramas on TV and we have to watch them competing against each other in the paralymipcs and stuff.

    I think it was better when inferior specimens like those mentioned were locked away in dungeons and shit. Out of sight, out of mind.

    Sink or swim, that's natures way.

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  17. Actually, Galton, that's a great idea. In fact, if we're tucking the mentally ill away, why don't we make use of all that untapped genetically inferior labour and put them to work before we put them out of their misery, say in special camps? Camps where, in return for the bare essentials of room and board, their unpaid labour could be concentrated?

    Can you think of a good name for a scheme like that?

    Fuck the fuck off, you fucking fascist sludge.

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  18. Bedlamite: a King amongst privileged-enough-to-have-an-internet-connection men.

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  19. I can think of a good name for YOU, Penny Red: Epsilon-minus semi-moron.

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  20. I've already told you what to do, Neuroskeptic. What are you waiting for? Impregnate yourself!

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  21. I'm not sure if The Cat in the Hat needed to apologise or not, but it's nice that (s)he did so, without excuse or irony. It doesn't often happen on the internets. (I agree with Bedlamite's original point though.)

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  22. Oh, and it might be a difficult concept for some people to get their heads round, but having an internet connection doesn't necessarily have anything to do with privilege (except in the we're-not-starving-in-a-Northern-Uganda-refugee-camp sense). Not having an internet connection does have something to do with it.

    Statistically people are less likely to have internet connections in deprived areas but there are people of all income levels and in all areas of the UK who do have them, so privilege isn't a requirement for an internet connection. Hence why I am in favour of government initiatives to put support services for those on low-incomes on the net, but against voting-by-internet.

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  23. *waits for someone to tell me off for not having a sense of humour*

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  24. OMG Tim F, CAn't You TAKE A JOKE? WTF???!!lol.

    (did I do okay?)

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  25. I think it could do with a couple more exclamation marks, just for authenticity.

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  26. This is a weird blog. An interesting and possibly enlightening article followed by a series of off-the-wall comments that are so, so weird. I don't know if you people are a pantheon of demi-gods and demi-goddesses engaged in some kind of knockabout fun or all as mad as March hares.

    Anyway.

    Have any of you read Philip Dick's novel "Clans of the Alphane Moon"?

    Wiki synopsis of Clans of the Alphane Moon

    On Alpha III M2, the Alphane moon of the title, human psychiatric diagnostic groups differentiate themselves into caste-like pseudo-ethnicities, i.e., the aforementioned "clans".

    It's a good read; recommended.

    I don't know why I'm even mentioning this!

    Perhaps your lunacy is catching!

    Bye!

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  27. "I don't know why I'm even mentioning this!

    Perhaps your lunacy is catching!"


    Join us...

    JOIN us...

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  28. I have been thinking much the same thing recently.

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  29. thank you, galton, for proving penny's point all the better.

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  30. Where to draw the line though?

    Lets say you`ve got a shop clerk who is rude and lazy, can we excuse his inability to do the job on the basis of his personality? How do we know that discrimination aganst the mentally ill isn`t justified?

    In the case highlighted above, Laird clearly was incapable of doing the job, because she had to retire on a half million pound pension after just two years. Thats a half million pounds coming from the taxpayer. So in this case, wouldn`t they have been correct to refuse her the job had they known about her existing condition?

    "I want my children to have the same opportunities and life chances as anyone else."

    Be careful what you wish for. I`ve got a feeling that the only way to make sure everyone has exactly the same life chances will be to level down. Your writing skills and excellent GCSE scores are an unfair advantage over those of us born without an ear for language and who have no motivation to study.
    As for high IQ`s, why shouldn`t I be allowed to conduct experiments at CERN? 0% of their staff are of average intelligence and it`s an absolute disgrace.

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  31. Mark is right.

    I believe the most effective, reliable and competent candidate should always be the one to get the job. Second or third best just isn't good enough if the company or business is to grow and survive.

    People like Penny Red think, simply because they have some academic achievement under their belt, that the world owes them a well-salaried, professional job with prospects.

    Not so.

    Maybe your common-or-garden basket case simply will never be able to hack it day in and day out, day after day, week after week, year after year. If your incapacity and disability end up costing your employer more than you earn for your employer what the hell good are you to them as an employee?

    The sad, bald truth is that EVERY position, no matter how creative or demanding, can easily be filled by a countless number of candidates these days. Given two identically qualified and talented applicants, one well-adjusted and reliable while the other is maladjusted and psychiatrically impaired, realistically, which of the two do you think the employer is going to appoint?

    You think you're the best qualified candidate applying for a job? You're not! There's always someone better. Got a first class degree from Imperial College London, well your competitor not only has a double first from Trinity College Cambridge but a relevant Master's degree besides!

    Too many mentalists set their sights too high. Instead of aspiring to be a journalist or newspaper editor or whatever why not settle for a cleaning job or a position as a cup-jockey at Starbucks making cappuccinos for the great unwashed?

    Get over yourselves and get me a coffee while you're at it!

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  32. fantastic post - i will be linking to you shortly in my own scrap of a blog xxx Jensen

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  33. PR - "Galton, that's a great idea. In fact, if we're tucking the mentally ill away, why don't we make use of all that untapped genetically inferior labour and put them to work before we put them out of their misery, say in special camps?" - fantastic response :)

    I can see the point that employers should maybe have the right to not employ someone with a disability (such as a mental health problem) if the disability will significantly impair their ability to work. The change needs to be that people recognise that not ALL mentally ill people are useless and can work (and at the same time accept that some cannot work, and they need to be supported too).

    Galton - i'd love to work in Starbucks actually. But they're just as unlikely to hire the mentally ill as anyone else.

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  34. "Mark is right.

    I believe the most effective, reliable and competent candidate should always be the one to get the job. Second or third best just isn't good enough if the company or business is to grow and survive."

    That isn't the issue being discussed here. The question is whether someone who either may or may be not be effective, reliable and competent should be legally required to reveal any previous history of mental illness.

    There isn't any logical basis for believing that someone who experiences occasional bouts of depression (and receives medication for it) but maintains an above average record of attendance at work is any less effective, reliable and competent than anyone else.

    Unfortunately, the approach of many (possibly most) employers is currently not logical and therefore most people with a mental health difficulty with the intelligence to make them effective employees will omit their history of mental illness their application forms.

    I imagine I'm one of the people who's said that the Christine Laird case 'is a complicated case'.

    It is a complicated case in that her mental illness (and her non-disclosure of it) is only part of the story but it's the least the complicated part of the story.

    If the employer won this case it would be a massive blow against both the rights of people with mental health difficulties and against the notion of employment based on merit, and the implications of the judgment would need to be tackled very quickly through legislation or the huge amounts of cash currently being pumped into tackling stigma would be rendered almost irrelevant.

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  35. If her mental illness had affected her job performance to any significant degree she wouldn't have been appointed to the position in the first place. She left after 2 years because presumably the depression got much worse. Would someone with a history of cancer/heart disease have to declare in an interview "well I can do my job pretty well, but there is a chance I'll keel over an die in the next few years, so maybe you wanna appoint the other guy"

    Galton - just to let you know, if we actually implemented your ideals of fundamentalist pure market economics to the employment market then I think you'd find all the jobs in this country would be taken by people who have travelled half way accross the world to escape death/poverty/famine and are willing to work for 50p an hour. Which I doubt you'd like as I'm pretty sure you're a facist

    There are checks in place in this world so that not everyone can get any job they like, there's also systems in place so that people are specifically bred to serve one role in life. We're somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, its just about finding the right place (which is not where you think it is)

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  36. Why are you people all being so rude and nasty to each other? Are you mental or something?

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  37. I'd point out to Galton and Mark that employers as a class have a great number of burly men and women with truncheons at their disposal, and claim the right to exclude the great majority of people, including many of the mentally ill, from the social wealth. Given that they are making that claim, and expecting mentalists not to shoplift or revolt, they do in fact 'owe' people something. Strangely enough, nobody is born biologically poor, in a world where everything is just 'naturally' already claimed.

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  38. Also, good post Penny. Some people with mental illness make a bigger effort just to get through one day than other people make in a year, only to end up exactly where they were, with people around them not even noticing how hard it is.

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  39. Look.

    The most effective, reliable and competent candidate applying for any position is almost certainly never going to be an applicant with a history of mental illness.

    Fact.

    How telling it is that the only person, other than the current writer, who was mercilessly attacked on this forum was Cat in the Hat, whose only sin was to tentatively advance the idea that some mild forms of mental illness might help human beings carry out especially demanding and unusually creative activities.

    Christine Laird secured her appointment under false pretences by deception and in my view she should be punished to the maximum extent allowed under the law.

    Consider the following alternative parallelism:

    Wouldn't it be right and proper to prosecute a paedophile who secured a position in a school, say, by not revealing his murky past?

    I would say, yes, emphatically.

    What about a dentist or surgeon with HIV/AIDS who carried on practising only because he/she deceived his/her employer by not revealing that part of their medical history?

    How could any employer make a balanced decision about any candidate for employment without full disclosure from that applicant? It does matter to us whether job seekers have a criminal past, addictions, relationship problems or have suffered from any kind of chronic health problem which might impinge now or at some arbitrary point in the future upon how well and effectively they are able to carry out their duties. The behaviour of members of the public that have commented here and, indeed, Penny Red's bilious article itself, demonstrate concretely what I'm talking about. For example, I think Bedlamite might be on a hiding to nothing were he/she to try to carve out a career in public relations shall we say.

    Play to your strengths but play fair and lose those chips on your shoulders too. All this nonsense about me advocating concentration camps and imported foreign labour paid at an hourly wage of £0.50 weakens your case and makes you look immature and rather silly to be honest.

    Josie - I'm sorry Starbucks won't have you but if I bump into you in one of their establishments I'll be happy to treat you to a cup of whatever you want gratis.

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  40. 'Look.

    The most effective, reliable and competent candidate applying for any position is almost certainly never going to be an applicant with a history of mental illness.

    Fact.'

    Galton, this is loathsome, ignorant prejudice, but I'm putting it down to ignorance for now. Do better, speedily.

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  41. I applaud your comments, PR. I find it sad that so many people have to pretend, even to friends, that they are happy, when so many people in Britain are shockingly miserable. Miserable to the extent of being lumped into medical categories.

    Bluntly, if I think about psychiatry (as a very, very _young_ science) and then think about people attempting to apply these (young, untested, piece-of-shit) 'rules' they've conjectured, I get angry quickly. People have problems. People are complicated. I was saying earlier today that I personally feel very lucky that I have something concrete to trade with the world (my work ethic and my abilities); life would be worse without some certainties.

    Galton: You are a fool. Cf. The Cat In The Hat's comments about Aspergic programmers; mentally ill is not the same as mentally disabled.

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  42. Man, are the comments following this recent Penny Red post polarised! Wow! Pen must have touched a nerve here and then some! What a lot of heat and precious little light I'm afraid. Mentally ill people should not face the prejudice they do I guess but shouldn't lie about themselves to get job interviews and job offers either. Two wrongs don't make a right. I don't know what to say.

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  43. I'm quite surprised how passionate this all seems to have made people. I have mild Aspergers, which is deemed as a Mental Illness, and I feel there is a Catch 22 type scenario associated with informing/not informing people about it.

    If you don't tell people about it, you run the risk of seeming like someone with a personality very much in a state of flux. I occasionally act or say things that are odd or totally inappropriate that I can later understand, but for people who are not informed of my condition, these 'slips' cause confusion or even contempt though a lack of understanding, which is forgiveable , but still quite hurtful.

    If you do tell people, you run the other risk of people associating you with the worst attributes of Aspergers, because they have nothing else to compare it to. I only have it very mildly, but people have asked me if I was capable of killing people with no remorse (a wonderful indictment of the media and how it portrays mental illnesses; a very strong sufferer of Aspergers killed a young girl and didn't care). I don't know about the rest of you, but being asked if I could murder people and not care was somewhat startling to put it mildly.

    This, of course, is all purely in a social context, but fundamentally this all links in with the work ethos and environment where peoples pre/misconceptions about mental health would become much more prevalent, to good and bad ends.

    I'm not really sure if the general public will ever fully be able to understand mental illnesses; to many I am convinced that Dyslexic people will be viewed as stupid, and Aspergic people unemotional and lazy.

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  44. Ms Penny Red.

    You're a real pistol.

    Have you ever considered writing a novel that encapsulates your experience of mental illness, making your way in the world and challenging prejudice? Or a radio/stage play? Or script for a production on one of the many terrestrial/digital TV channels? Why not take a dramatic/literary approach rather than a journalistic one to express your views and opinions?

    It would probably be a lot of work but might actually earn you some money and be a foot in the door to a full-time career as an author of some kind.

    You are an interesting young lady, although sometimes a tad too tempestuous and hot-blooded for my liking, but I am sure your world is peopled with many fascinating characters worthy to grace the pages of any potential magnum opus.

    Fulfil your destiny...

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  45. "Look.

    The most effective, reliable and competent candidate applying for any position is almost certainly never going to be an applicant with a history of mental illness.

    Fact."

    This may or not be loathsome, it's certainly ridiculous.

    If I was looking to hire a press officer for my NGO and there were hundreds of applicants, and one of them was former Downing Street press officer, Alastair Campbell - a man with a history of serious mental illness - there's a fair chance I'd give him the job.

    If he was up against a hypothetical clone of himself, identical in every skill and life experience but without a history of mental illness, the hypothetical clone might get the job instead.

    As it is, your bizarre 'fact' depends on the assumption that a history of mental illness 'almost certainly' trumps the combination of every other conceivable factor related to someone's employability.

    In other discussions, I'd probably describe that view as 'insane'.

    The problem is that while a huge percentage of employers share this view it's not in the interests of job applicants with a history of mental illness to reveal their history, and it's also less likely that people who are in work and experiencing mental health difficulties will choose to seek treatment before things get really bad. That's bad for the people concerned and at least equally bad for their employers.

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  46. So, in conclusion, everyone is wrong, and the truth is far far more complicated than anyone so far has suggested, there are competing imperatives, many considerations to be balanced, etc etc.

    OK?

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  47. "If I was looking to hire a press officer for my NGO and there were hundreds of applicants, and one of them was former Downing Street press officer, Alastair Campbell - a man with a history of serious mental illness - there's a fair chance I'd give him the job."

    Mr. Floyd, your sophistry is simply silly and unworthy of inclusion in any serious debate about the issues being considered.

    As you must have realised I included the qualifying "almost certainly" in my comment to indicate that there will be a few exceptional individuals who will always, because of their unique talents, knowledge and abilities, be exempt from the full generality of my original statement: if I had intended ALL mentally afflicted individuals to be included, rather than a simple majority of them, I would have omitted "almost" from the aforementioned clause in my comment.

    Throwing up one example of an individual whose depressive illness did not prejudice his appointment to a position of influence is not a valid counterexample that discredits my thesis.

    If I challenged you to furnish me with a couple of dozen - or even a dozen - examples of similar appointments made in the day-to-day quotidian world I think you would find it a struggle.

    So you see I am not a fascist but a realist. What I have said is a fair statement of the way things are and are set to remain for the foreseeable future under the aegis of any political party elected to govern the British Isles.

    All this gassing about "fairness" and "equality" etc., is reminiscent of praying to the deity. You don't really think that anyone is listening and you don't really think that anything is going to happen as a result of your efforts but you kind of feel better for making the effort anyway.

    My words may not be popular.

    Unvarnished truth rarely is.

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  48. Zeep - the only reason why people in China work for 50p an hour is because they (and other people living around them) are less productive than their European counterparts. The reason why we don`t make pants in this country anymore isn`t because we have been undercut by evil chinamen, but because we can make more money doing something else. For that reason your statement that "all the jobs would be taken" by these people is pretty meaningless. (also, i`ve been to China and think it unlikely that most of the poplation would be able to compete for the service industry jobs which make up the larger part of the British economy)



    "I find it sad that so many people have to pretend, even to friends, that they are happy, when so many people in Britain are shockingly miserable."
    This sums up Britain - land of misery. You propose to solve the problem of misery by telling everyone you`re miserable? People don`t like miserable people. This isn`t an evil elitist plot to keep the mentally unwell down, it`s a fact of life. Better to try and keep a smile on your face than to burden others with your misery - it`s just basic politeness.

    "I'd point out to Galton and Mark that employers as a class have a great number of burly men and women with truncheons at their disposal, and claim the right to exclude the great majority of people, including many of the mentally ill, from the social wealth."
    I think I live on a different planet to you. People making employment decisions are almost always self-made (good luck to them) or middle management types, who are accountable. The only people who I do see attempting to steal money with the help of men with truncheons are the labour government...

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  49. Mark: You might want to consider that according to IQ tests the Chinese (& East Asians in general) are rather more intelligent, on average, than the British.

    You may be living in a fantasy world of your own creation I'm afraid.

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  50. Regarding the mentally handicapped not getting on in life. Besides Alastair Campbell what about our current Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who is clearly autistic as anything.

    Brown's mental handicap didn't prevent him from becoming leader of his party and our country although, it has to be admitted, not by means of any kind of ballot, election or other democratic process.

    I always thought Margaret Thatcher had the glint of madness in her eyes and was maybe suffering from mania - even megalomania! - or some similar illness and she got on.

    So that's two Prime Ministers and a Press Secretary who all seem to be nutty as hell sometimes in one way or another who succeeded.

    On the other hand the fact that Penny Red applied unsuccessfully for hundreds of jobs does kind of support the things Galton and Mark have been saying. It is a hard old world as far as I can see.

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  51. Blimey, there is such a level of ignorance being demonstrated by some posters on here, it does make you wonder just why some without even a passing acquaintance with mental health, MH systems, diagnoses, symptoms, their classifications,etc fell the need to air their lack of knowledge so publicly.
    FWIW, I put my more informed views over at the cross-post of this article on Liberal conspiracy:
    [note of interest: I work in mental health (with those on the severe and enduring side of things), have used MH services,and in my spare time have put on a big exhibition, still running in a major museum about the history of MH, perceptions of MH,user experiences and stigma]. You can reduce stigma by saying that MH problems are normal and affect everyone, conflating mental wellbeing with mental illness (for want of a better term for the purpose of this point), but that may mean that those with severe and enduring MH problems are more marginalised, as the worried well witter on about how ‘depressed’ (non-clinically) they are, as if that gives them insight into lasting and enduring conditions. Or, you can enlighten the public about the major differences in experiences and suffering that go with severe and enduring problems, but that risks the public switching off and seeing users as ‘the other’ and not paret of mainstream society. Tough call.
    For donkey’s years now, it has been generally accepted in Mental Health circles that plain sadness, unhappiness and bereavement, while unpleasant emotions, do not require treatment (nor medication) as they are psychologically healthy responses. Only if one’s ability to function on a daily basis is impaired significantly is intervention truly warranted.
    One of the greatest errors made by the current Govt has been to conflate mental health (and already-strapped MH services) with happiness and satisfaction: see Layard etc. A cynic might suggest that the diversion of resources away from severe and enduring MH problems (e.g. bi-polar, Schizophrenia, full clinical depression) has two aims: by ‘treating’ cases that never really warranted treatment, you can ‘achieve’ a remarkable success rate, and ‘cure’ shedloads. Also, putting money into having a CBT-lite practitioner on every street corner to ensure folk keep happy (despite the shitty reality of their existence…) means less social dissent, and more contented (brainwashed?) low-pay worker drones. CBT is okay, but NOT a panacea for all mental distress. CBT in essence does NOT cure people, merely equips them better to manage their condition, and those it ‘cures’ are those in much less need of intervention. Furthermore, CBT is promoted above other talking treatments (e.g. solution-focus therapy) because it is cheaper and can be delivered at a basic level by someone after just a couple of weeks training.It corresponds to the Government’s fatal love of grand schemes (a CBT ‘practitioner’ on every street corner) without addressing the more intractable cases of mental distress, which only respond to a tailored approach, not a one-size-fits-all CBT session. An underqualified and less capable/intelligent practitioner is little more use than a general chat with someone.This though is what will transpire: cheap,tokenistic nods towards mental health, which diverts resources to those in the least need.
    There appear to be two separate definitions or interpretations of the term mental health in operation, which muddies the waters for any debate. One is the realm regarding recognised/diagnosed/labelled mental health problems (clinical depression/bi-polar/schizophrenia etc), where needs are greatest as it includes all those with severe and enduring MH problems, regardless of where they receive services. The other is the area of mental well-being, and the management of adverse responses to commonplace life events (e.g. stress, divorce, bereavement, redundancy). With one you have a more identifiable user-base, whereas the other potentially encompasses everybody in society at large. The former is where the finite mental health specific resources should be directed, whereas the latter is in less need of MH-badged services and resources, and should be handled in general primary care/public health initiatives, if indeed by public services at all. If this is not observed then the risk is run that scarce resources are effectively diverted to those with easier to resolve issues, which may just as well be dealt with by a sympathetic GP, or indeed by non-health services.
    More people should attempt to take on board that one can be psychologically healthy, while at the same time feeling sad or unhappy: they are normal aspects of the human condition. Only when they take on extraordinary aspects or really impair functioning should measures be taken. When resources are finite, as they are in health and social care, they should go to those in the most need, rather than those simply upset, but with loud voices.

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  52. AlisdairC.

    Your comment was too long and full of words with too many letters in them.

    My voices tell me that the government is putting both fluoride AND fluoxetine, i.e., prozac, into Welch water supplies as part of an experimental pacifying programme vis-a-vis a balooning "boyo" underclass.

    What do you think of that?

    What bastards, eh?!

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  53. Welch water, eh? Does that promise to hydrate but then renege?
    Oh, by the way fluoxetine ain't really a pacifier, and fluoride deffo isn't.

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  54. Ha, ha, ha!

    I think you'll find fluoxetine is actually quite a good pacifier when absorbed by Welshmen with a blood alcohol content > 0.25%; all members of the "Boyo" underclass qualify for chemical tranquilisation under this citerion.

    Who would have believed that chemistry could be so funny!

    Don't laugh to loudly or Penny Red will be on your case!

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  55. I think love is better than hate.

    I think an open hand is better than a clenched fist.

    I think it's better to help somebody than to harm them.

    I think it is better to create something than to destroy anything.

    I think kindness is better than cruelty.

    I think all disadvantaged men and women in society should be given the chance to have a worthwhile and rewarding life whether they are physically and mentally perfect or not.

    That's what I really think.

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  56. Neurosceptic - I was commenting upon linguistic and cultural differences rather than problems related to general intelligence.
    No need to play the racism card on this one, i`m afraid.

    By the way, apparently the average IQ in China is exactly the same as that of Britain.

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  57. This seems a little like the unintended consequences of regulation again.

    You have a situation where you force employers to provide sick pay. So therefore to asses the risk they are taking on they ask for health history.

    I'm not stating an opinion on this but I'd be suprised if the council didn't win.

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  58. "Throwing up one example of an individual whose depressive illness did not prejudice his appointment to a position of influence is not a valid counterexample that discredits my thesis."

    It's an illustrative example of the considerations involved in an individual case.

    If the job in question is library assistant at Walthamstow Central Library, Alaistair Campbell clearly wouldn't be applying but if AN Other candidate with a history of mental illness applied for that job, the question of whether a history of mental illness should 'almost certainly' (I take almost certainly to mean in over 90% of cases) trump all other factors is exactly the same.

    Why do you think this should be the case?

    "If I challenged you to furnish me with a couple of dozen - or even a dozen - examples of similar appointments made in the day-to-day quotidian world I think you would find it a struggle."

    In three different jobs, over the last nine years, at least 40% of the staff in all the teams I've worked in have been people with a history of serious mental illness.

    I personally could name that two dozen very easily but that's because the field I currently work in is one where it's not a problem for people to 'come out' about a history of mental illness.

    In general, I'd be surprised if most people actually knew anything much either way about the medical history of two dozen of their colleagues. If they did, they'd find a significant percentage had received treatment for some for some of mental illness.

    Millions of people with a history of mental illness are getting jobs and doing them and not have a significantly worse sickness record than anyone else.

    I'm genuinely interested in a serious explanation - beyond 'it's the truth - as to why, in that situation, a history of mental illness trumps all other factors.

    "So you see I am not a fascist but a realist. What I have said is a fair statement of the way things are and are set to remain for the foreseeable future under the aegis of any political party elected to govern the British Isles."

    I don't think you're either a fascist or a realist. You're just someone making some baseless assertions.

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  59. Mr. Floyd, none of my assertions are baseless. What I have related is based on approximately three years work in personnel, recruitment and human resources.

    The rules of thumb that me and my colleagues followed when selecting staff matching the minimum skill-sets specified by clients in respect to recruiting employees are outlined below for your perusal.

    Reject every applicant for any position and bin every curriculum vitae submitted by any candidate where the aforementioned person:

    (1) is over forty five years old;

    (2) has been unemployed for more than a year at some point in their work history;

    (3) has (or has had) any kind of chronic or ongoing health problem physical, emotional or mental;

    (4) has dependants which might cause them to absent themselves from work, e.g., elderly parents, pets or sick children etc;

    (5) has any criminal convictions;

    (6) are applying for positions that are intellectually "beneath" them, e.g., post-graduates claiming to be seeking manual repetitious work etc;

    (7) has poor references from previous employers and/or educational institutions at which they were students;

    (8) has a pattern of holding down one job after another, job after job, temporarily, and for short periods;

    (9) has ever been dismissed by any employer for any reason;

    (10) has ever left an employer's service without good cause.

    When all people satisfying any of the foregoing criteria were shuffled out of the pack there were still, usually, a two figure number of suitable candidates, the cream of which we referred to our clients for consideration for various positions.

    If you really had a ratio of mentally impaired to normally functioning staff in the region of 40:60 in your workplace I can only assume you enjoyed a post in the civil service, national government, regional government or a financial organisation like a hedge fund. Your claims seem rather suspect to me, based on my recent experience, but not outside the bounds of credibility.

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  60. Aha, Galton works in H.R. .
    That explains an awful lot.
    (Don't like the assumption HR bods are sub-optimal in terms of their humanity and ability to relate to others, which is why they are usually hived off into their own compound at work? Don't make crass assumptions yourself...)

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  61. AlisdairC.

    I leave it to other people to judge my abilities rather than being vain enough to attempt to do so myself. Comically, it seems to me that most other commentators, including your illustrious self, believe that the opposite is true about them personally, i.e., they harbour the delusion that they are best placed to assess their own abilities and competence and that other people should not be audacious enough to dare to pass comment on them or assess their own quality based on a metric derived from other people.

    Grow up!

    Whether I am personally optimal, sub-optimal or even super-optimal I cannot say. (Although the snappy Americanisms made me chuckle I have to admit.) All I can tell you is that when I worked as a HR manager for a large employment agency I earned in excess of £80,000 per year without breaking into a sweat, which is far more than I ever earned when I worked for an NHS trust as a diagnostic radiographer.

    I can hardly believe how puffed up and full of yourselves you people are. No wonder you struggle to advance your cause and make your own way in the world.

    Mind you don't bang your heads when you fall off the backs of those high-horses of yours and come back to earth with a bang!

    Society doesn't need you.

    You need society!

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  62. Galton, do you actually read what other people write:point to me where I've at any point boasted of my abilities or achievements(unlike yourself with your bragging of getting lots of money for old rope £80,000 per year without breaking into a sweat. I've mentioned my experience, sure, because that is relevant to the discussion. At no point have I tried to say how good I am and what I'm 'worth':that's for my various employers, who appear more than pleased, in that they offer more SLAs/contracts/commissions, even in the current climate.
    (Oh, and the sub-optimal is a dig at the bullshittery that goes on in way too many HR departments) Those within HR and recruitment are seldom aware of the realities of the world outside their bubble, and the verypoor regard in which they are held.

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  63. AlisdairC.

    How old are you? - twelve or something? The next thing you'll be saying is that your dad can beat up my dad! My advice to you would be to stop taking the immaturity pills.

    I must confess that I have found your diatribes amusing though. You have more brio, bullshit and braggadocio than any one person deserves. If I passed you on the street I'd definitely throw a fifty pence coin into you had for a performance like that.

    Well done.

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  64. AlisdairC - for "you had" read "your hat" in my last comment. I apologise for this error; my touch typing secretary normally does all my letters and other abecedarian communications for me. Normally I rarely have to soil my fingers with a keyboard.

    Oh! By the way I assume in your last comment your concatenated portmanteau word "verypoor" should actually read "very poor".

    You made a mistake! You made a mistake!

    Nya-nya-nya-nee-nya-nya!

    Yaboo! Sucks! to you!

    You're it!

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  65. Should have remembered DFTT.
    Oh, and as to immaturity, what kind of grown adult uses terms such as spasmos?.
    To your alliterative charge of brio, bullshit and braggadocio, I would simply say that that may be a classic case of psychological projection on your part. Not having met you, I couldn't confirm such, but your words alone add another "b" to the list, namely, bigot.
    Bye!

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  66. Dear AlisdairC,

    Than you for submitting your curriculum vitae and covering letter to us for perusal.

    The general standard of applicant was of the highest calibre and, after giving the matter careful consideration, unfortunately, on this occasion, we are unable to add your name to the shortlist of candidates invited to preliminary interviews etc., etc.

    We thank you for your interest in the advertised position and wish you every possible success in your future career.

    yours faithfully,

    pp Head of Human Resources

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  67. Galton is in HR, ha, ha ha.What, he/she really is?

    Dear Mr/Mrs Galton
    It has come to our attention at the CIPD that you have not in the course of your professional conduct been following the Chartered Institutes's guidelines for practice. may we at the Institute bring to your attention the Institute's position:
    CIPD supports the use of a rigorous and structured approach to selecting candidates. This will ensure that the process both is and is seen to be fair to successful and unsuccessful candidates. However, it is also important to ensure that the approach taken maintains a degree of flexibility and is tailored to ensure it’s the most appropriate means of selecting a candidate for the position in question.It’s important that all those involved in assessing candidates at all stages of the selection process have received adequate training (for example in interview skills) and have been adequately briefed about the job in question and its requirements. They also need to be aware of the danger of unfair discrimination in the process – which has both legal implications and consequences for the diversity of the organisation . Could we also remind you of our factsheet on discrimination: http://www.cipd.co.uk/subjects/dvsequl/general/divover.htm
    and our position on disability:
    CIPD believes the DDA is an important lever for change and an impetus for improving good practice. Employers should be rigorous in their approach to designing solutions to meet needs of business and individuals and should not be easily put-off by the perception of difficulties.CIPD believes it is crucially important to value all people as individuals and to concentrate on personal abilities and strengths in order to ensure organisations gain from diversity. Having a disability does not automatically stop an individual from being the best person for the job and disabled customers, as well as their families, friends and relatives, exercise choice about spending their money. It therefore makes sound employment and economic sense for employers and service providers to capture the contributions of people with disabilities both as employees and customers. Evidence shows that there are not necessarily additional costs involved in taking action to do this. There are in fact advantages in terms of tapping skills and talent and the potential for growth in markets and improved customer satisfaction

    Your conduct to date has not been in accordance with recognised professional good practice, and as a consequence believes that you have brought the profession into disrepute.

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  68. Hey guys.

    Why can't we all just... get along?

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  69. Are AlisdairC and Galton actually one and the same person pissing about and acting daft?

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  70. What I love how is Galton appears to be think that writing 'FACT' after his (I'm damn sure it's a he) dry-spunk blurts (I mean, er, arguments) makes it a fact. Maybe he's been watching Brass Eye and didn't get the ironic intent in Dr. Fox's statement that "Genetically, paedophiles have more genes in common with crabs than they do with you or me. Now that's scientific fact. There's no real evidence for it but it is scientific fact." Or maybe he did grasp that when he was stealing his entire life philosophy (and his name, p'raps) from the Ayn Rand article on Wikipedia that the text '{{fact}}' after a paragraph meant that its proclamations are unsupported by third party sources, rather than that its a fact.

    Outside of those two scenarios, I can't even begin to grasp the stunted, infantile mindset that would think that adding the word "fact" (as opposed to say, "Collins, J & Jefferson, B, 'Mental Health Issues and Employability', Journal of Management Studies, vol. 4 iss. 12 pp 32-61") why would you write 'fact' after your post? How can it increase its credibility? If one's initial statement has insufficient credibility (and trust me, it has none in this case), why would claiming it's a fact (on no authority than ones own, which one has already admitted is insufficient by trying to embellish it) add to it?

    What I also love is how he cites the long list of characteristics he illegially discriminates against in selecting applicants (I would be very grateful if he could forward me his full name and place of employment: I know some people who could get a lot of work out of this) as if that some confirms his point, whereas in fact merely illustrates what a steaming cock he actually and, and underlines Penny's point brilliantly. His list, and thus the range of talent he's excluding, might also go a ong way to explaining why my office has given up hiring temps due to their almost universal low quality (because, y'know, if you exclude two-thirds of your potential appointees on the basis on completely arbitrary critera, it's little surprise you're left with a well-chewed rump (no offence to anyone). Way to go.

    Finally, what I really love is how he mentions that he used to be a Diagnostic Radiographer (is that like a radiologist? no? oh, oh well, well, my apologies) and that he earns £80k a year (I for one prefer to spend my money on stuff I like rather than boast about how much of it I have, but then, I'm not compensating for anything) I like as if a) we'd be impressed b) it somehow justifies his rank fucking idiocy that than confirms pretty much every other post Penny has ever made. I mean, Christ, man, that shit wouldn't be impressive even if it were true and he didn't spend all day wanking into a sock to Trisha (not that I'm saying he does, like). Still, I think we ought to be grateful that a man of his caliber can spend so much of his time (including his office hours) churning out his inanities here rather than hanging some orphans or whatever else he'd be up to.

    (I gleefully await being told to "grow up", followed by a barrage on an hominem insults entirely unrelated to anything I've written).

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  71. Galton "I leave it to other people to judge my abilities rather than being vain enough to attempt to do so myself" ... this seems a rather weird idea considering that you're not very good at judging other peoples competence on the basis of labels (mental illness, disability, age etc) which covers such a huge spectrum of possibilities.

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  72. Are all these comments some kind of an elaborate piss take, or what?

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  73. Caffeine  addiction

    In this  article, we are going to discuss the importance of caffeine addiction and the  most important facts ictions in the world, just like  cocaine and marihuana. Caffeine addiction sometimabout it, as caffeine addiction is something we all must  prevent in order for us to be healthy and stay that way for years. We are also  going to mention some significant facts about caffeine effects and how caffeine  effects may affect our body performance considerably.

    Caffeine  addiction is one of the most famous types of addes has been considered a lie,  but it is a really, because caffeine is a stimulant that becomes addictive  within a certain period of time. Interestingly, caffeine addiction shows up  when you are not expecting it, and it does not necessarily show up because we  want to.


    Pure caffeine is, chemically speaking, a plant-based alkaloid that stimulates the central nervous system in any living creature that intakes it. Biologically, caffeine serves as a form of pest control for certain plants like cacao trees, coffee shrubs, yuba mate and tea trees; it causes insects and other pests to fall down from the effects of over-stimulation. So, just like those pests and insects that I mentioned, caffeine also produces stimulation in our central nervous system, which usually makes us feel more energized, invigorating and active.


    There is something called caffeine withdrawal, which refers to the sudden denial of us to consume caffeine, and it happens when regular consumers of caffeinated products may experience painful headaches if the body is denied caffeine. These headaches are caused by excess blood gathering in the area around the brain and sinus cavities, so without the stimulation provided by caffeine, the blood vessels shrink, restricting the blood flow. The traditional cure for caffeine withdrawal is to ingest more caffeine, which is not a healthy solution and this is also why many headache medications contain small amounts of caffeine.You can  more information for the Caffeine addiction in: http://yourcaffeineaddiction.com/

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  74. Caffeine addiction!!! Are you having a laugh? Or what? WTF is going on here?

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  75. Ooooh, isn't this Galton a fucking big boy.

    Well, I think almost everyone I've ever worked with has either some sort of mental issue of some type and of varying degree. It's pretty much a human trait.

    I'm sure there's things I would look at in you Galton that might be what I find 'mentally odd' too.

    Besides, recruitment people are worth shit these days.

    Yours,
    Well earning IT Professional with some mental health issues

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  76. Just a quick note to tell you that I'll try to get back to you asap. I'm too busy currently to be bothered to pause to take you down a peg or two. This sorry process is in any case reminiscent of shooting fish in a barrel; it's just too easy an activity to be gratifying.

    Can't you people see that by disabusing you of your personal mythologies I'm actually trying to help you?

    Considering that I currently pay 40% tax on my income some of which undoubtedly goes towards funding the plethora of handouts that the lumpenproletariat depend on to survive, e.g., Jobseeker's Allowance, Tax Credits, Housing Benefit, Council Tax benefit etc., etc., I think you should be more respectfully disposed towards me as one of the many involuntary benefactors whose "donations" go to keep you alive. Overall, although the quality of debate has been low and of an exceptionally poor quality, I appreciate the efforts you have made to initiate me into your various distorted and faulty views of the world. It has been interesting - rather like a seventeenth century penny tour of my local lunatic asylum, or similar.

    Got to rush...

    Josie - You're too sweet to play hard-ball with and I will still treat you to a coffee and a cake should the opportunity arise. I hope you get well soon.

    As for the rest of you I wouldn't give any of you a drink of rank, rancid and foetid urine if you were dying of thirst in the middle of the Gobi desert... or... come to think of it... that's exactly what I'd do!

    Ladies and gentlemen.

    The economic sky is darkening and I can clearly see a most ferocious storm approaching our nation which will strip away the flimsy garments, spun out of nonsense, that you have dressed yourselves in believing they will protect you. I can clearly see what's coming and one day soon you're all destined to see it too.

    You all need to wake up.

    Like lemmings dashing headlong towards the edge of the ice floe you need to stop now, turn back and mend your ways before it is too late.

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  77. Thanks for the coffee and cake Galton (gonna be a caramel machiato and a banana nut muffin, kthanks).

    2 things that i'm wondering Galton:
    1) what's the difference between a "mentalist" and a "normal person" considering that it's not black-and-white - mental health difficulties come in various degrees?? For example my sister has traits of OCD, yet she's not considered mentally ill - and most people are like that. Does the divide hang on whether a person has a psychiatric diagnosis? Or what?
    2) If you, Galton, were to become physically or mentally ill, would you expect (or want) to be helped out by disability living allowance and incapacity benefit?? And, since we're talking about taxes, would you rather that parents didn't get benefits, and the NHS didn't exist, and your rubbish wouldn't be collected from your drive? You also have this assumption that ALL mentally ill people take vast amounts from the state, when this isn't neccessarily true. My mental illness falls into the 'severe' category, but the only thing that i rely on from the state is the (very very minimal) NHS services.

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  78. Galton:

    Thank you for your list, it's useful and has been saved for later consideration.

    I have a problem with your chosen field. I don't have a problem with you: I've known people who worked in that field who genuinely tried to support the employee against the bean-counters, but I have a problem with the field itself.

    It's a type of propaganda; if you can persuade people to accept an absurd statement in large enough numbers, for long enough, no-one with stature dares contest it because they would lose.

    Humans are not a resource. Their time is. Their skills are. Humans are not a resource

    The danger is that resources are owned. Companies own their property portfolio, and have every right to do with it as they wish. I run a pub; the pub owns the beer, the company has a right to do with the beer as it sees fit. Resources are owned, they have no autonomy, no self-determination and no guarantee of rights from the UN. Humans do not fit this description.

    If people are allowed to think that humans are a resource, you get the idea pervading your business culture that the company owns the people. If this is allowed to persist, then they start getting the idea that if the people don't fit the work you should cut bits off the people, rather than changing the shape of the work.

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  79. In a way Galton is right. Maybe he's a bit of a joker too: a gadfly my grandmother would have called him.

    In the UK we do not have large extended families as they do in Africa and many eastern countries. In the orient if a family member has an illness (mental, physical or otherwise) everybody in that family chips in to assist and support them, i.e., parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, grandparents etc. In Europe this support network doesn't generally exist and so the state has to step in to provide a minimum level of help, based on a political and social consensus with its citizens.

    What Galton seems to be saying very clumsily IMO is: If the country you live in is prosperous and has a social conscience the mentally ill and other ill people will be supported and receive a very high standard of care. (Two countries where this high standard is currently the norm are Sweden and Denmark.) State supplied support should include financial help and medical care as well as other things necessary to a good quality of life, e.g., comfortable, affordable and suitably adapted housing. On the other hand, if the state is impoverished such help will necessarily be progressively reduced, withering on the vine over time, as the monies allocated are inevitably outstripped by inflation and other factors.

    Both New Labour and the Conservatives clearly intend to enlarge the mesh of our welfare system's safety net; many more people are going to fall through the system in the future in a way not seen in the past post-second world war. The reason for this is partly financial (the UK is destined to fade and be eclipsed by other nations over time) but mostly political and philosophical. No political party seems to regard society as an entity that should, ideally, remain cohesive any more. The fashionable, modern viewpoint is more or less identical to that of individualistic North America, i.e., we must all fend for ourselves and disregard others. In the vernacular, "If you don't work, you don't eat." Purnell's plans are bad, but, believe me, nothing like as bad as the Conservative blueprint for welfare reform! Although the Tories will certainly be too afraid show their true colours and be too cruel during their first few years in government post 2010, I believe they will not be able to resist singling out some of the most helpless and defenceless groups to victimise and pauperise viciously and with a vengeance. Single parents are an example of one such group and, shamefully, the mentally ill are another.

    Society has changed.

    Once upon a time people had morals and compassion but, post-Thatcher, now they only have mortgages and credit cards. The men and women in this country have lost the capacity to sympathise with and care about the poor, ill, elderly and the disadvantaged. If you don't believe me simply consider the conspicuous lack of resistance exhibited in respect to the heinous Freud/Purnell/Grayling plan to stick it to the disabled and unemployed. In fact, when asked in a poll about said proposals, in excess of 90% of interviewees stated that they supported the notion that the unemployed should be forced to labour for the dole, something that would have been unthinkable as little as five years ago.

    The world is changing and not for the better boys, girls and those of indeterminate gender. I believe this is what Galton was going on about.

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  80. Came across your site and perhaps this will help. Mental Illness had no coorelation to Intellegence. There may be a corelation with creativity as the parent may be a normal carrier with creativity that passes the creativity with a mental illness via gene. The research is still out on this. However there was and continues to be a great deal of stigma and harrassment towards people with mental illness. The reasons are miriad (sp?)and unjustified, as the public is constantly being bombarded with layman news from uncredible sources linking criminal activity and mental illness, when it just is not the norm. It IS frustrating to watch jobs dissapear, promotions given to the underqualified and under experienced because the boss has a issue with the mentally ill, something that other employees pick up on. Yes, accomodations should be made when needed, but to do so often leads to managerial nitpicking down the line. With the public so mistaught, it is a wise consumer that thinks long and hard before comeing out. This includes their own family....because no one knows what is going to happen in the future. It is also frustrating for the mentally ill to cope with the unrealistic expectations placed upon them via salary if they decide to go back to work. There is a large load placed upon their sholders, and even if not of the Titans and Gods, most certainly of the saints, if only for their patience with others, and their forbearance in these few examples I have written. Lets be as kind to ourselves as we often are to others in expressing our thoughts in this forum. PS-I sometimes need to vent my thoughts from time to time also. Good Luck to All.

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  81. Anthony Charles Lynton Blair3 March 2009 at 13:09

    I always though Gordon Brown was unhinged but look how he was dressed when he met President Obama today.

    Gordon Brown meeting President Obama

    Shocking!

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  82. Peripatetic Poster6 June 2009 at 01:39

    @Galton.
    After reading all the posts on this page.

    The difference between myself and you, Mr. Galton, is this:

    When you are lost in the Gobi desert with nothing but your rancid, foetid urine to sustain you, I will actually share with you half the contents of my precious fresh water bottle. And when I meet you on the streets, I will provide you with more than a cheap cup of diuretic.

    This is something that, notwithstanding your high-sounding, polished idiom and feigned sagacity (along with your seniority) you may never understand.

    And I don't expect you to.

    As they say, if you want to understand water, it's no use being a fish.

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  83. Why would a company set themselves up for a discrimination lawsuit? Can any of you read inbetween the lines I've been diagnosed at one time with hundreds of different judgements but once you get in that system its a real bitch trying to get out, almost like the legal system is in a way or family court so I think this victim of the system and possibly mentally ill person based on non profit driven diagnoses should just sue because their employer has already built up their case and the lawyer is a retard for even taking up the case like this.

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