Mental health discrimination examples (list)

In the following article, you will find a series of mental health discrimination examples. Unfortunately, it is possible to find different cases where people have been treated unfairly or negatively because they have a mental illness. 

Mental health discrimination examples

Mental health discrimination is a topic we have already worked on in this blog, and we invite you to read it to complement it with the examples you will find in this article. Mental health discrimination examples refer to those situations in which a person with mental health problems is discriminated against and mistreated.

To begin with, NOBODY should be discriminated against for any reason, and this is even found on the basis of human rights. This is a guideline that should govern all societies, but we know that this is a difficult problem to deal with and it is not so easy to bring about change. 

A first task that we can carry out when we talk about mental health discrimination examples, is to put in evidence those real and concrete situations where this has happened so that this can be used as education and understanding material around this problem. Ignoring the problem, and pretending that we have no problem with it, will only bring more problems. 

Mental health discrimination examples can be found in different contexts and situations, and we will list them below:

  1. Mental health discrimination examples at work 

 One of the most common scenarios where different mental health discrimination examples can be found in the work context. These examples may be of a different nature: 

Direct discrimination:

Mental health discrimination examples can be found directly in the work context. For example, Carlos approaches his boss in the workplace, where he has been for several years when he had problems with depression but they were not yet so severe. At some point, the depression became more severe and his co-workers noticed this because Carlos was hospitalized for a few days. 

When he gets to his boss, Carlos wants to ask him to allow him to make some changes in his work duties, because he needs to be more active. Currently, Carlos is sitting at his computer all day at work, and this does not help him manage his symptoms. He needs some physical activation, some work that requires him to move around to perform some task. 

Carlos does his best to explain the situation to his boss in detail and clearly; he is sure that good communication will make a difference in this situation. His boss tells him that this is not possible, takes a negative attitude, and tells him that he is behaving capriciously and that having a depressive disorder will not help him “get extra benefits” at work. 

Carlos’ boss didn’t understand his situation at all and took a defensive position from which it is very difficult to establish a proper communication exchange. 

Perception Discrimination 

In another case, in the same company where Carlos worked, there is another employee who does not have any mental illness. But the boss thinks she does have a mental illness because she is very kind and understanding of Carlos. The boss treats her in a derogatory and negative manner, sometimes not answering her questions, ignoring her and avoiding taking her opinions into consideration. 

All of the above, because her boss believes she has a mental illness, and this perception almost completely guides his behavior towards her. Even if she does not suffer from any mental illness, it is still a case of mental health discrimination examples. 

Discrimination when getting a new job 

Luis wants to get a new job, as it is taking more effort than he is capable of. It is common for a person to want to change jobs, and look for one that suits his professional expectations. 

When Luis arrives at a job interview with a potential new employer, he finds that his previous boss has given him negative references because he has been suffering from a mental illness for several years. This, despite the fact that Luis is a great employee, and met the job expectations in his previous job. 

As you can see, this is another example of mental health discrimination examples. The previous employer, forgetting the right to confidentiality, and acting in bad faith, takes mental illness as a sufficient reason, in itself, for a person not to be employed. According to this person, those with mental illness should not be working or in the workforce.

Mental health discrimination examples: the consequences of treatment 

In another case of mental health discrimination examples, Lily has been working in a company for two years, has depression and her employer has known about it for a few months. But recently she had a couple of relapses, her symptoms became very acute, and she had to be absent from work for two relatively long periods of time. 

Her boss, who, again, has known about her diagnosis of depression for some time, decides to give her a sanction at work for her absence in the previous two periods of time. He says that his attitude is very negative and that he is not contributing as he should to the proper functioning of the company. 

Lily feels terrible because her absences are due to the worsening of her symptoms and the need to have a few days of higher medication, rest and activities different from work, as these are temporarily counterproductive to her well-being. In short, her boss has discriminated against her because of her mental health situation. This is one more to add to the mental health discrimination examples. 

Mental health discrimination examples: discrimination can be indirect 

In the company where Carol works they have different shifts since they need constant attention to the activities they perform. During some times of the year, it is more necessary to cover some shifts and not others. Carol’s boss gives an order that all employees must switch to the night shift; now no one will work during the day, at least not for a relatively long period of time. 

Carol suffers from an anxiety disorder and has a lot of difficulties sleeping, so most of her medication is taken at night, which makes her very sleepy and causes her to lose some cognitive performance. Carol’s boss knows that she has this disorder and has been in treatment for some months now. 

Carol explains to her boss the situation with her medications and tells him that she would not be able to work a night shift, since her psychiatric treatment prescribes taking the medications mentioned above, and she will feel very sleepy and unable to perform an activity that demands discipline and attention. 

The boss refuses to let Carol work the day shift. He says he understands her situation, but the orders are for everyone. He says that her mental illness cannot become an excuse for not taking orders, just like the rest of the employees in the company. This is another case of mental health discrimination examples. 

It is a case of discrimination because the boss, despite knowing Carol’s mental health situation, does not comply with her request and decides to put her on a shift that goes against her current capabilities. 

Mental health discrimination examples: when words hurt 

Estefany suffers from an eating disorder, and some of her co-workers know this, as she has changed her physical appearance and shows clear signs of having problems with food intake. 

When they are at lunchtime, which is a shared space where most employees are sitting in the same place, some of her co-workers make offensive comments against people who have eating disorders. They don’t tell Estefany directly, but the intent is very clear and everyone understands that it is harassment and that it hurts Estefany. 

This is another example since the reason for the person to be offended or harassed is precisely her mental illness, which she has no control over.

  1. Mental health discrimination examples in relationships

As mentioned in another post on this blog, it is common for people with mental illness to suffer discrimination when trying to establish long-term relationships. 

Kelly has suffered many problems because she was diagnosed with depression a few years ago, has been in multiple treatments, and her symptoms, at times, are still intense. For this reason, she was once dating a boy who, upon learning that she had depression, decided to leave her at the dinner table. 

While they were talking, Kelly decided to be honest and open up, and the guy just grabbed his jacket, stood up from the table, and left. Then he wrote her a text message saying that he didn’t want to be with someone who was always bored, who would surely make her life more difficult to lead. That he preferred to get away from her. 


People with mental illness face challenges of different kinds, and it is common for them to be discriminated against and pushed aside in common social circles. It is common for people with mental illness to face discrimination in the workplace, and this creates great difficulties for them. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about mental health discrimination examples

What is discrimination in mental health?

Discrimination in mental health is any situation where one person treats another poorly or unfairly because they have a mental disorder. Stigma is a problem that can even worsen the mental health of people with a mental disorder. 

What are 3 examples of discrimination?

Here are some examples of discrimination: gender or sexual orientation discrimination, age discrimination, race or color discrimination.

What are the examples of stigma?

Some examples of social stigma are as follows: discriminating against a group of people with a health condition by creating a set of negative beliefs about them. For example, people who have HIV are often treated badly and there are beliefs about them that encourage them to stay away and not make contact of any kind.

Can I be fired for mental health issues?

No one can be fired from their job based on a mental health condition per se. In fact, in many countries, this is illegal and could have legal consequences for the employer who does it. 

How can discrimination affect mental health?

In addition to the symptoms of mental disorders, discrimination can make the situation even worse, and make recovery and return to normal life even more difficult for those affected. 

  1. The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-being
  2. The Equality Act 2010 in Mental Health: A Guide to Implementation and Issues for Practice
  3. Mixed Experiences: Growing up mixed race – mental health and well-being


  1. Discrimination in the workplace, reported by people with major depressive disorder: a cross-sectional study in 35 countries
  2. Is manager support related to workplace productivity for people with depression: a secondary analysis of a cross-sectional survey from 15 countries
  3. People with schizophrenia believe that they are stigmatised at work and in the community