We were very fortunate to have public opinion polling expert and ex-journalist Mario Caneco, who used to work for Angus Reid, and now works as Vice President for Public Affairs at Insights West do a pro bono poll for us for BC ADHD Awareness Week Oct 14-20th 2014. Thanks, Mario!
They surveyed 801 BCers on a very wide range of questions that I helped co-write on British Columbian’s views towards ADHD in adults and children. We got some fascinating results. See the full BC ADHD survey answers.
As far as I know, it is the only comprehensive survey of the general public’s opinions on ADHD ever done in BC or Canada by a professional polling company.
The question below asked was “How comfortable would you feel telling each of the following people that you were diagnosed with ADHD?” Here’s a chart I did based on Insights West’s survey of BCers listing the very comfortable and moderately comfortable answers from each category.
Can you see the patterns?
And that’s just the general public’s answers. People who have ADHD and have been judged, shamed, blamed, stigmatized for years for it will certainly have much lower numbers than that.
If you doubt that read some of the answers to my survey question on the ADHD catch 22. What Would It Take To Go Public With ADHD?
Have a look at Mario’s column in the business section of The Vancouver Sun. “Stigma of ADHD still an issue for many. The survey suggests many, especially men and older people, would not discuss an ADHD diagnosis with their employer”
The Insights West Survey clearly shows that a majority of bc’s workforce are afraid to come out of the ADHD closet to co-workers or their boss. They are more comfortable coming out to their family and friends.
This month includes ADHD Awareness Week, so Insights West did a survey of how British Columbians perceive the disorder. The results show that most residents are remarkably open to different options for treatment, but are deeply worried about the effect of the revelation of an ADHD diagnosis could have on their careers.”
As expected, large majorities of respondents see little difficulty discussing this issue with their family (83 percent) and their friends (77 percent).
When it comes to the workplace, the results are decidedly different. Just half (51 percent) say they would be “comfortable” disclosing an ADHD diagnosis to their co-workers, and an even smaller proportion (44 per cent) would be “comfortable” talking about the disorder with their boss.
What you’re afraid to talk about you will not likely ask for help at work. ADHD stigma and shame keep too many BCers hidden in the ADHD closet instead of getting the help they need and deserve. It will affect their work performance and productivity. It will impact their co-workers and the boss and the business or non-profit or government workplace.
And ADHD is a very treatable condition see the Top ten ways to manage Adult ADHD.
The groups that are most likely to be worried about disclosing an ADHD diagnosis to their co-workers and bosses are men and people aged 35-to-54 — a large component of our province’s workforce.
The views of those aged 18-to-34 provide a silver lining, as these younger workers were less likely to feel uncomfortable talking about ADHD. This generation has grown up with many open references to the disorder. Their older counterparts are clearly more preoccupied with the stigma that would accompany any public acknowledgment of an ADHD diagnosis.
The biggest discovery from the survey is the realization that many British Columbians would opt for silence at the workplace, thereby foregoing the support they would need to deal with ADHD. There may be plenty of resources available from employee assistance plans, but if employees are uncomfortable addressing the disorder at work, they will have no access to that help.
There generally aren’t many resources for adults with ADHD anywhere in BC but some employee assistance plans do cover ADHD medications, therapy (important to get one who knows ADHD otherwise it can be counterproductive, you just need to try harder, you just need to focus etc) and occasionally ADHD coaching.
Not often because we ADHD coaches are not medical professionals but I have occasionally been hired by unions EAP’s and employee assistance plans ie VPD, RCMP, corporations, etc to coach their ADHD employees to manage their ADHD more effectively at work.
The economic and social costs of ignoring ADHD are huge. Very expensive for employers, government and society to ignore us and if it’s not safe to come out of the ADHD closet at work, many BCers who have or might have ADHD may not get diagnosed or treated.
While there are many problem with having ADHD it’s not all negative. There are many positive to having ADHD See the Top Ten Advantages of Having ADHD in a High Tech Career, especially the comments.
But if the majority of BC citizens who mainly don’t have ADHD are to afraid to come out of the ADHD closet at work as the survey shows, adults with ADHD will be even less reluctant too and therefore will be more likely to stay hidden in the ADHD closet instead of seeking help.
Owners, managers and human relations professionals in BC, what are you doing to reduce the stigma of ADHD at work to people with ADHD will be more likely to disclose and get help at work? Stigma against ADHD doesn’t just harm your employees and their families it can harm your business or organization’s profitability and productivity.