Why mentally ill job seekers prefer not to disclose condition

Based on her letter, "Improve job options for those with stable mental conditions" (April 12), Ms Chiang Mei Yee does not seem to have properly grasped the immense depth and extent of the terrible stigma surrounding mental illnesses, especially schizophrenia.

Those expected to make use of the proposed mental wellness centres will still be perceived as mental patients. Being certified by a psychiatrist as employable or receiving professional help from such a centre will not convince employers to hire those who suffer from mental illness.

A survey by the Institute of Mental Health ("Mental illnesses 'not all in the mind'"; Oct 8, 2015) shows that most people do not believe that mental illness has a biological cause that can be managed with the proper medication. They think that those with mental illnesses can "get better if they wanted to". And schizophrenia is the least understood of the five major mental illnesses mentioned in that study.

Employers would rather err on the side of caution than risk their company's business by recruiting a person who may upset customers.

It can be hard to change stereotypes once they are formed. Much of what people know of mental illness comes from films, television dramas and what they read. Unfortunately, mental patients often feature in the news only after they have committed some violent crime, with precious few positive stories written about them.

The result is that patients who are successfully managing their illness may omit their condition in job applications and those who have jobs would rather not disclose their condition to colleagues.

Lee Kay Yan (Miss)