Whereas employment has been shown to be beneficial for people with severe depression across different cultures, employers’ attitudes have been shown to be negative towards workers with this illness. Today, little is known about how stigma and discrimination affect job participation of workers with severe depression, especially from their own perspective. Therefore, the article analyses the outcomes of a survey done with respondents of working age and from 35 countries.

Results show that, overall, 62.5% had anticipated and/or experienced discrimination in the workplace setting. In very highly developed countries, almost 60% of respondents had stopped themselves from applying for work, education or training because of anticipated discrimination. Having experienced workplace discrimination was independently related to unemployment due to the existing social stigma in hiring people that have suffered from any mental health problem.

In spite of the high prevalence of mental disorders, the majority of people are often reluctant to disclose their condition; employers usually are not aware of the fact that many of their employees have mental health problems. In fact, not disclosing a mental health illness may be the most correct action because, in most cases, employers tend to think more negatively about employees suffering from depression than another with a physical condition in the same circumstances.

The article concludes that independently of the country or the culture, people with a severe depression claim to have been discriminated against in the workplace. To change this situation the programmes to reduce the stigma and the discrimination must include employers and occupational health professionals as they are key players in bringing about changes in behaviour and practices that must be implemented in work settings.


Source: The ASPEN/INDIGO Study Group. Discrimination in the workplace, reported by people with major depressive disorder: a cross-sectional study in 35 countries. BMJ Publishing Group, February 2016. Available at: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/2/e009961.full