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The new coming out: Disclosing a mental disorder at work

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Work is where many of us spend a third of our lives doing—and for some, a bit more. As it encroaches more and more into our leisure time, our private lives are also becoming more entangled with our work. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, some 43.7 million American adults suffer from a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder. It can be argued that the American workplace has become more progressive than ever,  with some companies offering paternity leaves to others trying out perks like unlimited vacation time. But it’s proven different when it comes to dealing with an employee who’s suffering from a mental disorder, and whether—and how—to tell your work about it has become a pressing issue.

What are the pros and cons of disclosure? Have you ever “come out” to your boss about what you’ve been going through emotionally? What laws are in place to protect someone from being unfairly dismissed because of a mental disorder? If you are an employer, how have you dealt with an employee who’s suffering from a mental disorder?


Susan Goldberg, an attorney and psychologist and Assistant Professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA . Her area of speciality is laws around disclosing a mental disorder at work.

Alina Tugend, writes the “Shortcuts” column for the New York Times. Her recent column dealt with the topic.