There is a great post up on Feministe on the dilemma of whether to come out of the mental illness closet and the repercussions of doing so.
One of the areas of disclosure I’ve struggled with is whether or not to disclose in emergency situations to people like police, ambulance personnel, and people who are providing assistance. In the past I have done so, and it has not gone well. I have had police tell me to my face that they will not believe my report of being assaulted because I have just told them I have schizophrenia, and I have had police assault me themselves, and then tell me that no one will believe me because I have disclosed that I am mentally ill. I’ve had a little more luck with ambulance workers and paramedics, but still found that their training on psychiatric issues is sub par. Paramedics particularly seem to expect me to be dangerous when they discover that I have schizophrenia, especially if I’m in distress or crisis. I feel they should really know better. People with mental illness are not particularly likely to commit assault. On the contrary, we are more likely to be the victims of an assault than people who do not have mental illnesses.
Check out the whole article for more on mental illnesses at work and in other social circumstance.