I received a call today regarding our post entitled “Vancouver’s Battle Against Adult ADHD Stigma” alerting me that clarification on CADDAC’s position is required.
I sincerely thank the caller for taking the time to speak to me about their concerns.
Our comment was in no way intended to be political or favour one councillor over another.
Our intention was to highlight the message that could be taken from statements made. If an employee requests assistance for their disability, especially adult ADHD, they are seen as not being capable of the job, or playing the “poor me I have a disability card”.
I hope that this is not Ms. DeGenova's position; unfortunately it could be interpreted (or misinterpreted) in that way. As stated in the blog, questioning the expense, or any expense, is not the issue. Our concern was that additional statements made could send the wrong message.
At this time many employees are fearful of disclosing their ADHD. They are reluctant to ask for simple accommodations in the workplace that would make them a more productive employee. They fear the stigma and being viewed as incompetent or making excuses. They worry that coworkers may resent them for receiving special treatment.
A recent Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) report, “Minds that matter: Report on the consultation on human rights, mental health and addictions”, http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/minds-matter-report-consultation-human-rights-mental-health-and-addictions
helped to clarify the duty of employer to accommodate individuals with mental health conditions. It is however also important to note that the commission states, “The accommodation process usually begins when someone identifies they need accommodation due to a disability-related need.”, http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/minds-matter-report-consultation-human-rights-mental-health-and-addictions/10-duty-accommodate, and that it is the responsibility of the person with the disability is to ”inform their employers of their needs”, http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/disability-workplace-roles-and-responsibilities-fact-sheet.
Hopefully this report is a first step in helping to clarify everyone’s role in assisting those with a disability in the workplace, but we still have a long way to go. If comments, unfortunate or misinterpreted as they may be are left unchallenged it furthers the stigma or the disorder.
I was notified about an incident that occurred during a Vancouver City Park Board meeting which highlighted the continued misunderstanding and stigma which still remains about adult ADHD. Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Melissa DeGenova shamed and stigmatized Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Sarah Blyth, who is the first politician in Canada to go public with ADHD.
Asking a question about Vancouver paying for the cost of business coaching is of course acceptable, making someone with a medical condition feel ashamed for asking for assistance is not.
About a year ago Sarah Blyth asked park board staff for help as she would be chairing some upcoming contentious meetings. She was offered business coaching. At this park board meeting questions were asked with regard to expenses surrounding the ADHD coaching she received. Commissioner Jasper asked staff to bring to the board any related information; and added that chairing the park board is at times a difficult job, and that if a commissioner needed help that he thought the request was reasonable. He also stated that Sarah Blyth was open about being diagnosed with ADHD.
Following this discussion, Melissa DeGenova asked why the governing party would not elect someone capable of doing the job, and further stated that she had disabilities, too. Melissa has two diagnosed Learning Disabilities: dyslexia and written output disorder, and is on the City of Vancouver Disability Advisory Committee. Ms. Blyth and others reported that, as she was leaving the meeting, Commissioner DeGenova proceeded to follow her out the door asking why she was playing the, "Poor me, I have a disability card."
To access Sarah Blyth’s description of the stigma she felt, please click on the following link or copy and paste it into your browser: https://www.facebook.com/notes/sarah-blyth/stigma/10152386409495210
To access Jamie Lee Hamilton’s account of the incident and request for an apology, please click on the following link or copy and paste it into your browser: https://www.facebook.com/jamie.hamilton.9480/posts/461977273945834