Lizzie decides to write about the hidden disability

Hard to see but there all the same, mental health issues prey on the modern workplace. Why does it have to be this way, wonders Lizzie, and decides to write about the topic…

“The thing is,” said Lizzie, “If they were in wheelchairs, people would react differently. It’s a kind of ‘badge’ that shouts ‘disability’.”

She had been reading a magazine article about mental health at work and wondering why problems got overlooked.

Ollie was on the floor restraining baby Jack from eating jigsaw puzzle pieces. “That’s a bit harsh. Why would you want people with mental health issues to sit in wheelchairs?”

Lizzie gave him her pursed lip and eyebrow-lift stare. “I’m not saying that at all, and well you know it. What I’m saying is that ordinary people can’t see mental health issues in others. Doctors invest years of their lives in learning to diagnose people’s ailments, so how can people with no training be expected to spot problems? There’s a trigger response about a wheelchair that someone with no physical symptoms doesn’t get; that’s all I’m saying.”

She went on: “I don’t think companies spend enough time thinking about their employees’ mental health. In fact, I’m going to write a blog about it.”

Having rescued the jigsaw from Jack, Ollie rolled over onto his back. “Interesting topic. The point you should start from is that old mantra about companies believing employees were their most important asset. Remember Grandad Ron used to say that it was a buzzword back in the 80s and 90s? He told me that he once got a reprimand from his boss because he used to leave his colleagues laughing when he’d been in their offices.”

Lizzie hadn’t heard that story, and asked Ollie what had happened. “As far as I know he had the perfect response. He wanted to know why it was a problem, because as far as he could see, people who were happy in their work did a better job than those that weren’t. The second group were the ones who used to grumble in gloomy and dissatisfied huddles in corners, getting paid for doing nothing at all. That ended the debate, really. You should ask him about it.”

Lizzie nodded slowly. “That’s right,” she said. “The people working in a company are important to it, and if the employers cared for them, there would be fewer problems, fewer people off work with anxiety and stress, and a raft of other issues.”

“You might ask him about bullying as well,” added Ollie. “I bet he’s seen some of that too and might have a good anecdote or two to share.”

Lizzie was already scribbling notes. “I could write that it’s good business sense to look after employees’ mental health and wellbeing,” he said. “That taking time to make sure that’s OK improves productivity because people feel valued. I wonder what taking the opposite view costs the economy every year? I bet it’s a lot of money. I must look it up. And more importantly, isn’t it the right thing to do? Goodness, we only come this way once; don’t we have a right to be happy in what we’re doing?” she added.

“Jack was certainly happy chewing this jigsaw giraffe’s ear,” said Ollie. “Less so than Alice will be when she sees it; this was her favourite.”

“You should have got to him more quickly,” said Lizzie. “It wasn’t that high up, even if it was a giraffe…”