10. ‘To Tell or Not to Tell’, disclosing your psychiatric disability at school. Experiences from four European countries

Abstract

Individuals with major mental illness are an oppressed minority, pauperized by employment discrimination, undervalued and denied access to many places and resources. They face persisting stigma in our communities.
Therefore, a very common dilemma for people with psychiatric disabilities is the decision to tell or not to tell about their psychiatric disability. Disclosure has benefits, but some people tend not to disclose their psychiatric disability, sometimes for fear of discrimination, and sometimes because they are able to manage their life. However, every person’s situation can change for a variety of reasons and this may have impact on their decision to disclose. Also, asking for needed accommodations in the living, working or educational situation often requires disclosure of the disability, and may require evidence of the disability. The decision to be open about the psychiatric disability is a personal one, and the own situation and circumstances play an important role in making this decision.
The role, if needed, of professionals is to assist people with psychiatric disabilities as they evaluate their options. It is NOT to tell the persons what they should do, or to remind them of situations where disclosure caused difficulty or resolved difficulty.
The information presented in this poster is based on the experiences of the four European partners of the ImpulSE project. It is intended to help professionals to assist people with psychiatric disabilities by offering a resource about the issues of disclosure and psychiatric disability. The information will also help people with psychiatric disabilities to make informed decisions about whether or not to disclose.

Presenters

Representatives of the ImpulSE project, Norway, Czech Republic, Portugal & the Netherlands