The Three Cs of Disclosing Serious Mental Illness at Work: Control, Conditions, Costs

Marjorie Baldwin

Baldwin, M. L. (2021). The three Cs of disclosing serious mental illness at work: Control, conditions, costs. Psychiatric Services, 72(3), 344-346. https://doi.org/10.1176/APPI.PS.202000160


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This Open Forum describes a framework for analyzing factors that influence an individual’s decision to disclose serious mental illness in the competitive workplace. The disclosure decision is multifaceted, organized in dimensions of control, conditions, and costs. Control refers to the extent to which a mental illness is concealable, so that a worker may choose whether to disclose. The conditions workers impose on disclosure determine when, to whom, and how much they choose to say. The costs, both monetary and emotional, are a manifestation of the pervasive stigma associated with mental illness. The framework described here can form the basis for rigorous empirical studies of the disclosure decision that will inform both workers’ decisions to disclose and employers’ responses to disclosure. The objective of this research is to improve labor market outcomes for the significant numbers of workers with serious mental illness who can engage in mainstream, competitive employment.

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