Monday, October 02, 2006

Disclosure legalities

So I delved further into the Mental Health Care Act of 2002. Although this is a South African Act, I'm pretty sure they're all pretty similar. Another grey area that interests me is Disclosure. And, yes, there is a whole section devoted to disclosure. BUT, it's not the disclosure I'm looking for. Its all about when pDocs can and can't divulge your info to a) third parties b) yourself.

What I'm looking for is legal guidelines on what, when and how BiPolars themselves need to disclose their BiPolarhood. Nothing found. WHY NOT?

Take the following scenario:
A BiPolar woman applies for a job as an au-pair. A 3 year-old child is left in her care. One day the au-pair gets totally manic  wanders off into the garden, and the  3 year old falls down the stairs and dies. When the parents get back, the au-pair is still wondering around the garden having long conversations with the trees and plants totally oblivious to the fact of the death. The parents flip. Once they've got over the funeral, they take the au-pair to court. The au-pair's lawyer gets the au-pair off on the grounds of insanity. So the parent's lawyer change their tactic and sue the au-pair for failing to diclose that she had BiPolar.

BUT there's nothing in the law that spells out when and where BiPolars are required to Disclose. Not in South Africa anyway.

This example could be applied to hundreds of jobs. The accountant who blows the firms savings on a gambling bet. The truck driver who suddenly sees the freeway as a Formula One track. The nurse that jumps into bed with her heart-trouble patients. etc. etc.

So why has this side of the law not been covered? Is it too complicated? Are they yet undecided as to which way to go?

And perhaps even more sobering for us BiPolars: IF you are required to disclose your disorder at every job interview, will we EVER be employed?


  1. I read an article recently about informing a current employer about your mental illness. It was taken from the viewpoint that it is beneficial for the employee. If an employer doesn't know their employees condition how can they provide effective support? No mention about informing a future employer!

  2. honestly i think the stigma is still too great to get a fair shot...just my personal opinion. perhaps not politically correct or forward thinking of me, but, what can i say. do they need to know your HIV status, your sexual preference...i get really uncomfortable with disclosure being law...

  3. I only tell intimate partners about my illness, and sometimes I don't even tell them. My daughter doesn't know about it yet. I might tell her when she's a teenager. If I do my job well, why should an employer need to know anything about a mental illness that seems to be in remission? I did disclose my illness to a previous employer following a stress-related incident only to have them treat me like crap and eventually refuse to renew my contract. Of course I was going through a difficult divorce at the time, but my employers certainly didn't stand behind me in anything approaching a supportive manner.

  4. I know, let's make this bracelet saying "BIPOLAR" that all of us have to wear to inform the whole freaking world we're messed up.



Recent Posts