High-flyers' personal stories help break down prejudice

Oct 29, 2015

A US-based advocacy group is using the stellar achievements of high-powered business leaders to show that mental health conditions don't have to stand in the way of career success.

Founded in 2013, the Stability Network consists of more than 30 successful people who experience mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. All are at the top of their professional game – President Clinton’s former advisor, university professors, journalists and senior clinicians are among the group’s membership – and all are willing to speak publicly about their experiences to break down stigma.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Stability Network ambassadors shared some of the highs and lows of their working lives, as well as adjustments to their working environment and schedule that help them manage their conditions.

"Someone who can help if you need it" 

Alongside his White House stint during Clinton’s presidential term, Robert Boorstin counts Google and the New York Times among his former employers. In each workplace, he has been open about having bipolar disorder. This allows him to ask for adjustments at work if and when he needs them, and he encourages those in a similar position to consider telling at least one person: “a boss, a co-worker. Someone who can help if you need it.” He adds: “People don’t like to be surprised, and if they know what’s coming, they may be more likely to cut you a break.”  

While openness about their conditions has largely reaped individual benefits for the ambassadors interviewed, the Stability Network’s primary objective is to show the paths taken by successful professionals – both to provide role models for people with mental health conditions, and to reduce stigma within the wider community.    

Research shows that talking openly about a personal experience of anxiety, depression or suicide can help to tackle prejudice and change negative attitudes. Equally, creating a supportive environment where everyone feels confident to talk about mental health is a fundamental element of a mentally healthy workplace.

Smashing stigma in your workplace

If you’re thinking about sharing your story, we’ve got some tips to help you plan what you’re going to say and take care of your emotional health afterwards. You could also consider screening a personal story video at work or sharing it with colleagues. 

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