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Mental health awareness has gained significant traction in the past few years, bringing much-needed attention to disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and many others. However, as society becomes more familiar with these conditions, there has been an alarming trend: using mental health as an excuse for bad behaviour. This is a deeply flawed perspective and here’s why.

Mental health conditions are real, often debilitating, and can affect every aspect of a person’s life. People with mental health issues can sometimes behave in ways that are considered inappropriate or harmful, and their conditions can indeed play a significant role in these behaviours. However, it’s crucial to differentiate between understanding the impacts of mental health on behaviour and using it as an excuse for poor conduct.

Mental Health and Responsibility:

  1. Encourages Accountability Avoidance:

Using mental health as an excuse for poor behaviour can lead to a lack of personal accountability. Everyone, including those with mental health conditions, should be held responsible for their actions. Condoning destructive behaviour because of mental health issues can enable individuals to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

  1. Creates Stigma and Misunderstanding:

When people use mental health as an excuse for bad behaviour, it contributes to the stigmatisation and misunderstanding of these conditions. It perpetuates harmful stereotypes that people with mental health issues are uncontrollable or inherently problematic, which is far from the truth.

  1. Undermines the Seriousness of Mental Health Issues:

Trivialising mental health conditions by using them as a scapegoat for poor behaviour undermines their seriousness. Mental health disorders are severe and life-impacting conditions, and treating them lightly is both disrespectful and harmful to those genuinely struggling.

  1. Hinders Treatment and Recovery:

When people use mental health issues as an excuse for their actions, they might avoid seeking the help they need. It can create a cycle where the individual doesn’t strive for improvement or recovery because they believe their behaviour is entirely out of their control.

While it is important to understand and empathise with the struggles of those dealing with mental health issues, it’s equally critical not to enable harmful behaviour under the guise of mental health. By doing so, we hinder personal growth, contribute to the stigma surrounding mental health, and undermine the gravity of these conditions. Everyone, regardless of their mental health status, has a personal responsibility to strive for self-improvement and to treat others with dignity and respect. If a mental health condition is influencing behaviour, it’s a signal that more support and treatment may be needed, it’s not an excuse for poor conduct.

This blog was written by Mel Stead FCIPD. Mel is a qualified HR & OD Practitioner and the Company Secretary & Trustee of Unmasked Mental Health.

Unmasked Mental Health provide free peer hubs and low cost counselling services for people who may need to take about any issues they have. For more information on how we can support your organisation, call us on 01422 356945 or email

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