I’m an advocate for OCD awareness. I believe obsessive-compulsive disorder needs to be talked about, openly and honestly, so that we can foster understanding and acceptance. Silence is not an option and only serves to perpetuate the ignorance and confusion that already surrounds this mental health disorder.
So when Dan was filling out employment applications, and they asked if he had any “medical conditions,” what do you think I advised him to do?
Lie, of course.
No question about it. I’m a hypocrite, and the first to admit it. But as I’ve said before, OCD is messy, and it’s a lot easier to write about my thoughts and feelings than to actually carry out my own advice. I, like everyone else, am a work in progress.
The reason I gave Dan this advice (and I am not going to address the fact of whether he took it or not) is that I thought, rightly or not, that once the employer saw “OCD” on Dan’s application, he would not even be considered for the job. Who knows? That may or may not be true. Maybe the employer has OCD and Dan reporting it would be a plus?! So I realize that while I have no problem talking about OCD and advocating for awareness when I know I’m dealing with people who are already accepting of the disorder (sufferers, those who care about someone with OCD, health professionals), it is much more difficult, and scary, to be open and honest when you have no idea who you are dealing with or what their reaction will be.
Back to the application. I was surprised to even see this question as I believe, because of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is illegal to ask about health conditions in a pre-employment application. However, I know this law is complicated, and I am far from an expert. In fact, I am just learning about how it affects those with OCD in the workplace. Because my son has been in college for the past five years, my interest and knowledge of the ADA has always focused on disabilities within the higher education system. I have so much to learn!
I’d love to hear from those with OCD in the workforce and how they have handled this issue. Does your employer know you have OCD? Do you feel you have been treated fairly (or unfairly)? Any advice for those with OCD who may be entering, or considering entering, the workforce? Insight from those who have “been there” is invaluable.