Posting about mental health on social media affects job prospects: Study

Study reveals that putting up mental health posts on apps like LinkedIn may often influence hiring perceptions

Representative image of smartphone screen showing icons of various social media apps (photo: IANS)
Representative image of smartphone screen showing icons of various social media apps (photo: IANS)


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. 

The study involved 409 professionals with hiring experience, who were made to hear an audio interview of the candidate, based on which they were asked their perceptions about the 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 candidate as being less emotionally stable and less conscientious. 

The interview also did not further change their views about the candidate's conscientiousness. In other words, the perceptions that the evaluators had built 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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