Posting on social media about mental health? It can affect your job prospects

While it may be healthy to discuss mental health challenges on social media platforms, it can affect the way potential employers view job applicants, according to a study.

Researchers from North Carolina State University set out to determine the extent to which posts about mental health on the job platform LinkedIn affected perceptions of an individual`s personality and future performance in the workplace. 

In the study, they involved 409 professionals with hiring experience and also made them hear an audio interview of the candidate, based on which they were asked about the job candidate’s personality and future performance in the workplace

The results, published in the Journal of Business and Psychology, showed that people who saw the LinkedIn post about mental health challenges viewed the job candidate as being less emotionally stable and less conscientious. 

The interview also did not affect the views of participants about the job candidate`s conscientiousness. In other words, the perceptions evaluators had after seeing the LinkedIn profile largely persisted throughout the interview, the researchers said.

“People are often encouraged to discuss their mental health struggles on social media with the goal of reducing the stigma associated with mental health challenges,” said Lori Foster, co-author of a paper on the study and a professor of psychology at North Carolina State University.

“We think reducing stigma around mental health is extremely important, but our study suggests that mental health posts on platforms such as LinkedIn could have unforeseen consequences for people disclosing their mental health challenges.”

According to Jenna McChesney, assistant professor of psychology at Meredith College: “It`s important for people to take that into consideration when determining whether to share their mental health experiences online.”

However, “our findings don`t mean people should refrain from posting about anxiety and depression on LinkedIn,” said McChesney, who worked on the study while a grad student at NC State.

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