Mental well-being for all

March 19, 2015

The lecturer who describes their schizophrenia is to be commended for their unusual approach of accepting their mental illness and disclosing it to their manager from the outset (“Light on the darkness”, Opinion, 12 March). However, the notion that schizophrenia should be “seen as a strength” and as a means of bringing “insight and diversity” is questionable.

Symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations, delusions, confused thinking and behavioural change. As the writer observes, the condition is psychotic, with sufferers sometimes unable to distinguish thoughts from reality. However, research, teaching and even administration require the capacity to distinguish truth from falsehood by robust methodology and process. Students need ordered exposition and relationships based on stable and predictable character. University work involves coping with stress. Above all, anyone exercising management functions needs consistently sound judgement, not least to avoid complaints and legal actions against their institution and themselves.

Principles of equality and diversity rightly indicate that individuals and groups must not be treated less favourably because of disability and that all must be able to realise their full potential. The same principles also rightly indicate that bullying, harassment and victimisation must be eradicated from the workplace. These last forms of unacceptable discrimination are likely consequences of the perceptions and behaviours associated with schizophrenia.

How should one colleague’s entitlement to fair treatment and the realisation of their potential be reconciled with the entitlement of others to work free from discrimination? An “anything goes” approach to equality and diversity is untenable. It ignores the fact that workplaces are collective spaces in which one person’s conduct may negatively affect the health, safety or welfare of others, which are legally protected. In likely cases of conflicting entitlements, priority should always be given to those entitled to work free from discrimination.

David Grumett
School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

United Nations peace keeper

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

David Parkins Christmas illustration (22 December 2016)

A Dickensian tale, set in today’s university

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

poi, circus

Kate Riegle van West had to battle to bring her circus life and her academic life together

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard