A mental health charity has “sincerely” apologised after one of its job adverts barred applicants who were receiving any kind of psychological support from applying.
In the specification section for a peer support worker role, Mental Health Matters said anyone who had “direct engagement with mental health/other secondary support services” or had done in the past two years was ineligible.
The charity – which says on its website that it has “over 35 years of experience in delivering high-quality mental health and social care services” – blamed the wording within the advert for the £22,000-a-year role on “an administrative error” and said it had been withdrawn.
But this was not enough to satisfy Katy Stepanian, who spotted the mistake when she read the description at the charity’s Crisis Recovery Service in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.
The charity’s advert boasts that the centre offers “free mental health support in a welcoming, comfortable, non-judgmental” environment.
“I was just shocked to see such blatant discrimination, not only from a mental health charity but also for a peer worker role where the whole point of the role is to have lived experience of a mental health issue and use that to support a service user,” the 33-year-old told The Independent.
“They should have known better.”
She added that she was “angry that it might deter people from accessing mental health support and angry that it was just furthering the stigma about people with mental health problems”.
Ms Stepanian, from Sheffield, has worked as a peer support worker before and “absolutely loved it”.
“But that was in a job where the team and my managers understood the values of peer support and recovery, and I had great support,” she said.
“This job would have been in a more intense service and I’d be worried about what the organisational culture is if they’re prepared to put a person specification out that contains that.”
Ms Stepanian said she understood the charity “wanting to protect service users and peer support staff but I don’t think blanket and arbitrary clauses like this help”.
Instead, she believes that the advert should specify exactly what they’re looking for and suitability for the role should then be carried out at an individual level through occupational health screening.
A spokeswoman for the charity told The Independent: “We sincerely apologise for any distress caused by an administrative error which led to a historic and incorrect document being uploaded to a live job advert.”
She added: “We understand how important it is to ensure accurate information is provided and we appreciate how disappointing it is that this document has been uploaded to an advert.
“We will be investigating how this has happened and will ensure this does not happen again.”