I've always thought I was fairly understanding about mental health issues, and have never been of the 'pull yourself together' school of thought.
Lately, however, I don't know if I am getting less sympathetic as I get older, or whether attitudes have overtaken me and I am out of touch and unreasonable.
It seems as though 'it affects my mental health' is an excuse for not doing anything that pushes (some) people outside of their comfort zone, and I'm not convinced that this is a good thing.
We've heard a lot about how lockdown will have had a massive impact on the MH of a generation, because they have had to stay indoors, for instance. I understand that solitary confinement is very bad for MH, but I'm talking about people living at home with families or in couples, and who could still go out for an hour or more each day. Restrictive, yes. Inconvenient, yes. But unless people are at risk of domestic violence, or are claustrophobic, how were they risking their MH? It seems to me to belittle the impact of actual MH issues to say that they were.
When I was at work (in a University), a lot of students (several every year on 'my' course alone) would expect to be excused from assessments that would cause them stress, because of the impact on their MH. This was despite the fact that others would also be stressed, but as the course required that they be examined in a particular way to satisfy the requirements of the accrediting body, they got on with it and did the assignments as written. If a student had a GP letter saying that their MH might suffer, however, then we had to find them an alternative assessment method, and could not penalise them for not meeting the requirements. These would be things like oral presentations, vivas and the like - not anything cruel and unusual! It always struck me as unfair on those who did them in spite of feeling nervous, but had to watch others opt out and take an alternative option.
I have known a lot of people - friends, neighbours, colleagues - go off sick for weeks or months because of MH issues, leaving their colleagues to pick up the slack, which will obviously have a detrimental effect on their own MH, as they have to do their own job on top of that of the one off sick. In some cases, I have felt that if the role they have is too stressful, they should not take the salary, but should leave and find less stressful employment, with the caveat that if there is evidence of bullying, or if the demands of the role are impacting others too, then the company should be required to take steps to alleviate this.
I would be very reluctant to say any of this 'in real life', or if I were not anonymous on here, as it is (IMO) becoming something that just can't be said.
What do you think? As I say, I have every sympathy with those diagnosed with MH issues - as much as I do with those who are physically ill - but I don't think that they should be used as a way of getting out of doing things that people find uncomfortable, or to allow people to take extended periods of sick leave whilst taking the salary associated with a stressful job.
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