Mental Health Awareness Week

Awareness has to increase and Attitudes need to change

ADHD is just one of many mental health conditions. The interactions that we have, nearly every day,  with those who come to us for support all bear out the same experiences.

At all levels in modern society, mental health awareness is lacking. Whether it’s GPs, Teachers, Law Enforcement Officers, Employers, Work Colleagues, Friends or Family.

People with mental health conditions, disabilities and disorders are all too often misunderstood, judged, insulted, ridiculed, isolated, demotivated, excluded, sneered at and looked down upon.

One of the most disgraceful examples of workplace attitude and lack of awareness, that we have come across, was an instance where an individual that had performed their role well at the outset started to experience undetermined mental health issues which affected their work performance.

What makes this example worse, is that the head of the HR team was an individual with a neurodevelopmental learning disorder and should have been acutely aware of the challenges faced by an individual exhibiting ADHD like symptoms.

An incident occurred which triggered a series of conversations around poor work performance and as a result, that individual was subjected to a form of appraisal known as a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) over a number of weeks.

Having been judged to have failed to improve their performance, a short period of adjustment was allowed (which is a legal requirement for an employer under the Equality Act 2010) after which, the individual was subjected to a second Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) over a number of weeks.

Due to the mental health condition being experienced, the individual was again judged to have failed to improve their performance which culminated in to the employee leaving their role and employer. It was later that the individual was formally diagnosed with ADHD.

The point here is that the actions of the company were completely inappropriate and shows an appalling lack of understanding and compassion in dealing with an individual with mental health issues.

  • The use of Performance Improvement Plans is wholly inappropriate when evaluating and supporting those with mental health conditions who are incapable of significant improvement.
  • Pursuit of those with mental health conditions who, nonetheless, contribute to the work of their teams is wholly inappropriate.
  • Such Human Resource intervention is wholly inappropriate and rather than protect the individuals mental health and wellbeing, can actually cause long lasting trauma and anxiety which will amplify the individuals mental health condition and ensure that their performance is impacted in an even greater way than before the intervention.

The Message

  • We have an obligation to increase society awareness of ADHD and mental health conditions in general.
  • We have an obligation to speak out, in a positive and engaging way, when we experience examples of poor awareness and / or attitudes
  • We have an obligation to inform and encourage positive attitudes in others by sharing our life experience stories and give others valuable insight in to the daily struggles that manifest in those who live with mental health conditions.
ADHD is a Neurodevelopmental Disorder along with:
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Oppositional Defiance Disorder
and learning disorders such as:
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Dyscalculia