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Mental Health and the Workplace

Psychology

Do moderate symptoms of OCD or depression reduce the likelihood that an employee with five years of experience seeking a promotion would be viewed as a viable candidate relative to an employee with little experience but exhibiting no such symptoms other than a little anxiety?

That’s a question that so intrigued psychology major Lauren Arpin that she served as principal author in an independent research study completed in collaboration with Dr. Arthur Frankel. Arpin and Frankel recently presented their findings at the Eastern Psychological Association’s annual meeting in Philadelphia.

“The topic of mental illness in the workplace is crucial to examine because it impacts more people than some may think in regard to succeeding in their careers and how people evaluate the individual based on the additional factor that they have a mental illness,” Arpin said.

Arpin and Frankel found that female research participants appeared more worried about a female employee’s chances for promotion than they were about a male employee’s chances. They also found that regardless of their gender, participants expressed that they were more likely to advise a coworker to not apply for a promotion if they indicated they were depressed rather than being simply anxious about seeking the promotion.

“The stigmatization tied to mental illness is still relevant and although it is thought to be becoming more acceptable, our study shows that this acceptance still needs to be worked on,” Arpin said.

Arpin, who plans to continue her research with Frankel, aspires to become a clinical psychologist after achieving a doctoral degree. She hopes to one day open her own practice.