Issue 3
Monday, 27 March 2017
Charles Darwin University
Associate Professor Simon Moss
Associate Professor Simon Moss

Report unpacks hiring bias against mental illness

By Katie Weiss

Researchers have explored ways to reduce employment discrimination against people with a mental illness.

Charles Darwin University psychologist Associate Professor Simon Moss said people with mental illnesses often were overlooked for employment because employers underestimated their talents.

But Dr Moss said that mental illness could actually increase the likelihood of employees doing their job well.

He recently presented the findings with Associate Professor of Economics Ram Vemuri and La Trobe University academics in a report published in “Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal”. 

“If you employ someone with a mental illness, there might be an initial period of adjustment in the short-term but these are outweighed by the long-term benefits,” he said.

“For example, employees diagnosed with autism are often comfortable with doing repetitive tasks while employees with bipolar disorder or ADHD are often highly creative.”

Dr Moss said workplaces could benefit from becoming diverse and inclusive environments that valued the unique strengths of all employees.

He said initiatives that could counter employment discrimination included adopting a unique vision for a company and encouraging recruiters to focus on job applicants’ skills rather than mental illness traits.

“Everyone has strengths and weaknesses in the workplace and people with mental illnesses deserve no different treatment,” Dr Moss said.

“Mental health is a major cost to society that could greatly decrease through employment, and employment will certainly diminish the impact of mental illness on an individual.”