Liberty, Politics and Economics

Liberty, Employee Rights and Mental Health

We now live in a world where employee rights trump good business decisions.  Companies are increasingly forced to accept employees based on our social engineers idea of “equality” and “fairness”.  These misconceived philosophies are based on an assumption that we are all equally capable and any difference in ability is down to racism, sexism or some other type of bigoted discrimination.

Pregnant women must be given equal rights, allowed to leave work for extended periods and demand equal pay when returning to the workplace despite missing out on vital experience in the meantime.  This creates a strain on all businesses but particularly small businesses when competing in world markets.  We are now being asked to relieve the work and make allowances for menopausal women who may have problems concentrating or coping with their symptoms.

There are effectively quotas for gender, and disability and race are increasingly mentioned in order to socially engineer a society with equality of outcome.

Fair enough many would say.  Our businesses are at a disadvantage when competing with China, South East Asia, etc. etc., but the social benefits outweigh the economic cost.

However there has recently been a push to extend the concept of disability to mental health.  We understand that a work place must accommodate a person in a wheelchair for example and we should not fire somebody or discriminate against them because of a physical disability.  But we are now asked to do the same for people with mental health issues.  People with physical disabilities can do almost any job so long as there is some physical help.  This is not true with mental illnesses, whose sufferers often cannot even face going to work. They may have problems processing information, communicating effectively with colleagues and they can be unpredictable and occasionally dangerous.

The idea that a person must be able to do the job they have been hired to do seems no longer applicable.  Nowadays the workplace is not about building a successful and efficient business but about creating secure employment for everybody in society.

However, this politically correct policy carries considerable risks.  The driver of a bin lorry that crashed in Glasgow killing six people and injuring 15 others had deliberately misled doctors over his history of mental blackouts that caused the fatal accident.   The pilot of a Germanwings A320  who deliberately crashed his aircraft, killing all 144 people on board, had previously been treated for suicidal tendencies.  We now understand that half of all fatal air accidents involve some sort of pilot error.   This should strengthen the case for closer monitoring of employees and their mental health — and eventually for removing them from jobs where they may kill or injure others.  We already understand that political correctness in employing people with mental health issues creates a huge economic cost but now we find that it also creates a huge human cost.

Companies should not be legally forced or morally pressured to employ anybody or retain them unless they believe they can effectively and safely do the job for which they are hired.

Genetic Explanations

How much does an abusive upbringing effect our future mental health?

As ministers consider introducing a ‘Cinderella law’ to outlaw emotional cruelty to children, Collette Elliott publishes her book Unforgivable.  In this autobiography she blames the experiences of her horrific upbringing at the hands of her violent, heartless mother as the cause of her own mental health problems in later life.

We must be careful when making “cause and effect” assumptions regarding emotional abuse.

It is easy to link a child who was emotionally abused by a parent or close relative with consequent emotional problems and depression in adulthood.  It seems very intuitive to make the cause-and-effect link.

However, as is often the case in science, it will probably be more complicated than this.  We must first show that the link is not genetic.  A parent that emotionally abuses their children is likely to have many emotional problems themselves – including schizophrenia and depression.  It is just as likely that the child inherited the genes for emotional problems, including schizophrenia and depression.  As is so often proven with identical twin / adoption studies, our environment plays a smaller role in creating who and what we are than we assume.   For example about 50% of the cause of severe depression is known to be genetically inherited, regardless of environment.  Genes aren’t everything but they are at least as important as environment.

A Cinderella law preventing emotional abuse of children is a good idea, but we must manage our expectations as to how much this will reduce mental health problems of children later in life.


Major Depression and Genetics

Genetic link for depression found

Shared genes link depression, schizophrenia, and three other mental illnesses

Twins Early Development Study