Mental health disclosures on social media impact employer perceptions
The trend of discussing mental health challenges on social media, including platforms like LinkedIn, has potential implications for job applicants, according to a study by North Carolina State University and Meredith College researchers. While reducing stigma around mental health is important, the study suggested that such disclosures can influence how potential employers view candidates.
The study, titled, Is It #okaytosay I Have Anxiety and Depression? Evaluations of Job Applications Who Disclose Mental Health Problems on LinkedIn, involved 409 professionals with hiring experience, split into groups to assess the impact of mental health posts on LinkedIn. Participants viewed profiles with and without mental health mentions, coupled with audio interviews. Those exposed to mental health posts tended to perceive candidates as less emotionally stable and conscientious, and impressions formed after viewing profiles persisted even after the interview.
Jenna McChesney, first author of the study and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Meredith College, added, “Our findings don’t mean people should refrain from posting about anxiety and depression on LinkedIn. However, people who are considering posting about these issues should be aware that doing so could change future employers’ perceptions of them.”
The study also has implications for employers. Lori Foster, co-author of the paper and Professor of Psychology at North Carolina State University, explained, “When hiring managers look up candidates on LinkedIn, they risk seeing information that can colour their perceptions, even subconsciously.”
“Organisations should implement guidelines for using LinkedIn during the hiring process to encourage equitable comparisons among all candidates, including those who openly discuss mental health challenges.”