Workplace Mental Health with Bob Boorstin

During last week’s Kennedy Forum, we had the opportunity sit down with the moderator of the “Getting into the Workplace – and Getting the Most Out of It” panel, Bob Boorstin. The former Director of Public Policy at Google and Clinton Administration official hosted a valuable discussion with panelists on learning to be comfortable and open with your mental health condition in the workplace. “There’s no question that sharing information about our mental health issues will be positive,” said Boorstin, who echoed his opinion in a short video interview after the panel.

An Interview with Bob Boorstin

Watch the video below to learn about Boorstin’s personal struggles with his mental health condition and how you can become more involved in mental health advocacy.


“This is a gradual fight, but one that can succeed.”

Your Turn

  • Have you ever revealed your mental health condition during the hiring process? As a result do you believe your candidacy was jeopardized?
  • Work discrimination can be subtle. What discrimination have you experienced as a result of disclosing a mental health condition?

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3 comments
edwartfruitman
edwartfruitman

If your workplace is stressful, it can negatively affect your mental health. This can also lead to clinical depression, which is very dangerous. If you already suffer from depression, you must avoid antidepressants and opt for an alternative treatment; like TMS therapy. This way you will avoid the potential side effects and still get a proper treatment.

SteveBrannon
SteveBrannon

Of course, self disclosure is not a black or white decision in most any life situation. I believe any consumer needs to discern for himself or herself when and what to tell about personal health issues. Now, where do we go about gaining the wisdom of discernment in such matters?

evandaniel
evandaniel

Thank you to Bob Boorstin for this very thoughtful and helpful interview.  I wish I had been able to make it to the Kennedy Forum.  I would like to respond to the two questions above:

1. Have you ever revealed your mental health condition during the hiring process? As a result do you believe your candidacy was jeopardized?

I am an occupational therapist, and I have bipolar disorder.  About six months ago, I applied for a position with a community-based mental health organization in southeastern Massachusetts.  I was called for an interview.  During the call, the recruiter asked why I was only looking for 32 hours a week.  Caught off guard, I responded that that was all I could work because I myself have a disability.  She said she would be in touch.  We hung up, and I never heard from them again.  In healthcare, there remains the prevailing opinion that the professionals take care of people with health conditions, but healthcare professionals are not allowed to be people with health conditions or disabilities.

2. Work discrimination can be subtle. What discrimination have you experienced as a result of disclosing a mental health condition?

At my current job, I disclosed my mental health condition after about one month of employment in order to try to prevent problems, just like Mr. Boorstin suggests in the interview.  Nevertheless, when work became too stressful and I initiated a request for reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, I was met with enormous pushback from HR, which of course increased my stress level and caused me to decompensate more quickly.  I eventually informed HR that, if they did not enter into the "interactive process" of negotiating accommodations with me, as required under the ADA, I would file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and only then did they begin working with me.  I have had experiences similar to this one at several jobs since I was diagnosed 14 years ago, and, unfortunately, in my opinion and personal experience, I would say that there has been no decrease in employment discrimination against people with mental health conditions in these 14 years.  As an occupational therapist, I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Boorstin that work can be a golden key to mental health.  I am committed to this "gradual fight," and I continue to be inspired by Mr. Boorstin and others like him who are leading it.