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The choice to disclose (or not) mental health ill-health in UK higher education institutions: a duoethnography by two female academics

Joanna Fox (Department of Education and Social Care, Anglia Ruskin University - Cambridge Campus, Cambridge, UK)
Roz Gasper (Bristol Business School, University of the West of England Bristol, Bristol, UK)

Journal of Organizational Ethnography

ISSN: 2046-6749

Article publication date: 21 May 2020

Issue publication date: 20 October 2020

180

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to review how the mental ill-health of academic staff is regarded in higher education institutions (HEIs) and explore the decision to disclose (or not) a mental health condition whilst working in this sector.

Design/methodology/approach

The choice to disclose is explored by using duoethnography undertaken by two female academics working in this context who both experience mental ill-health. Both authors recorded their experiences, which were then shared with each other and analysed using thematic analysis.

Findings

The themes that emerged from the authors’ reflections comprise: a discussion of the connection between work-life identities and the impact of mental ill-health in the workplace; a consideration of the elements that influence our decision to disclose (or not) mental health diagnoses within HEI; and an examination of the additional burden of identity work for those who experience mental ill-health.

Originality/value

The study contributes to this evidence base by exploring the choice to disclose a mental health diagnosis in HEIs. It investigates this highly personal decision and suggests that this choice depends on the context in which we are located and how we experience our different identities in the workplace. Furthermore, it highlights the importance for HEIs to develop positive employment practices to support academic staff with mental ill-health to disclose a mental health condition and to achieve a good workplace environment whilst emphasising the need for more empirical work to explore the decision to disclose (or not) in this sector.

Keywords

Citation

Fox, J. and Gasper, R. (2020), "The choice to disclose (or not) mental health ill-health in UK higher education institutions: a duoethnography by two female academics", Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 295-309. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOE-11-2019-0040

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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