MEDIA RELEASE: October 2013
Gen Y more accepting of mental illness in the workplace than Baby Boomers
To coincide with Mental Health Week in Australia and World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2013, new research focusing on the attitudes of employers has found that Gen Y is more inclined to hire and support an employee who has a mental illness than their more experienced counterparts.
The detailed report, released today by not-for-profit organisation WISE Employment, surveyed 276 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across Australia on their willingness to employ job seekers with a mental illness.
The research found that 42% of Gen Ys would be likely to hire someone with a mental illness, compared to 16% of Baby Boomers surveyed.
“This stark contrast in attitudes from generation to generation is a significant finding, offering new hope to people with a mental illness as more Gen Ys gain roles with hiring authority,” said Matthew Lambelle, General Manager – Strategy and Alliance at WISE Employment.
The research, conducted by McNair Ingenuity Research, also highlights the lack of opportunity afforded to employees with a mental illness with only 27% of all hiring managers willing to give a person with a mental illness a go.
Unpredictable or unstable behaviour (61%), a lack of understanding from other staff (47%) and inability to do the job (47%) were the main perceptions cited for employers not employing a person with a mental illness.
“These stigmatised perceptions don’t match reality, with the majority of employers who had hired a person with a mental illness finding the experience positive or very positive,” said Mr Lambelle. “Less than one in ten employers reported a negative experience.”
Indi Batth, a 24-year-old supervisor at Surplus Recycling Solutions in Thomastown, recently made the decision to hire Filippo Savoia who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Filippo works as a factory hand in the electronic components division.
“I hired Filippo as he was enthusiastic and really keen for the job. He fits in well with the team, is friendly and works hard. We work closely with WISE Employment to ensure that Filippo gets all the employment support he needs,” said Mr Batth.
“He is a valued member of the team and I wouldn’t hesitate to employ more people with a mental illness, provided they are keen for the job. I like to give people a go.”
The research forms part of WISE Employment’s Empowermental campaign that runs throughout October and aims to break down stigma and encourage Australian businesses to consider employing people who have mental illness.
Key Research Findings
- Close to one in three (27%) employers would consider hiring a person who has a known mental illness. One in three (34%) are on the fence and over one in three (39%) are unlikely to employ a person who has a mental illness.
- The top three perceived key barriers to hiring someone with a mental illness were unpredictable or unstable behaviour (61%), lack of understanding from other staff (47%) and inability to do the job (47%).
- 21% cited it was too great a risk for their organisation to hire someone with mental illness.
- 62% of those who had employed or currently employ one or more employees with a mental illness say the experience has been positive or very positive.
- For employers who have had a positive experience employing someone with a mental illness, a majority of respondents attributed this to them being “hardworking” (60%), “fitting in well with the team” (57%) and being “generally good for the company” (51%).
- SMEs that had employed someone with a mental illness cited the top two reasons for doing so were to give someone a fair go (55%) and because they were the best candidate for the job (33%).
- 42% of Gen Y employers said they were likely to hire someone with a known mental illness in contrast to 16% of Baby Boomers surveyed.
- The top three key factors identified by employers that would increase the likelihood of employing someone with a mental illness were knowing an employee is loyal and likely to commit to the organisation (41%), a ‘no strings’ attached trial period (40%) and ongoing support and follow up from an outside agency (36%).
- 71% of employers surveyed were not aware of employment services that help people with a mental illness find a job.
- 81% were unaware of any types of support available to organisations hiring someone with a mental illness.
- Depression (38%) and anxiety (32%) are deemed to be the most acceptable mental illness when it comes to the likelihood of future employment. Schizophrenia and addiction/substance abuse are the least (11%).
About WISE Employment
WISE Employment empowers job seekers to find meaningful work and become self-sufficient. WISE also helps employers to find the right staff by understanding their needs and providing them with workers from diverse backgrounds. Services are cost-free to eligible job seekers and employers.
The not-for-profit organisation operates four socially-inclusive social enterprises, employing 220 people. Each year, WISE assists more than 10,000 people into jobs.
WISE supports the most disadvantaged in the community including people with disability, mental illness, youth, ex-offenders, refugees and Indigenous communities.
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