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Woman calls out reporter for implying that workers 'fake' mental illness

Meagan Morris is an entertainment and lifestyle journalist living in New York City. In addition to SheKnows, Morris contributes to many publications including The New York Times, Yahoo! News, PopEater, NBC New York and Spinner. Follow he...

Australian writer posts photos that show what mental illness really looks like

Fact: Millions of people worldwide suffer from mental illnesses like depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

Another fact: A person's mental health status is rarely recognizable by physical appearance. These types of invisible illnesses are no less severe than physical afflictions, but one newspaper reporter set people's understanding of that back significantly by writing an article on how employers can tell if an employee is "faking" a mental illness to get out of work.

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The rise in awareness about mental illness has created an increase in the number of employees "willing to take advantage of the heightened sensitivity: the employee who fakes a disorder for their personal benefit," wrote James Adonis in an article for the Sydney Morning Herald.

The astonishing article inspired an Australian writer to post two images on Facebook that were taken three days apart. In one, she's crying; the other, smiling.

"In the first one, I have a mental illness," Anna Spargo-Ryan captioned the images. "And in the second one, I have a mental illness."

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She continued: "One of the recommendations from this absolute dropkick of a human was to 'issue a warning to those you suspect are faking it.'"

These photos of me were taken three days apart. In the first one, I have a mental illness. And in the second one, I...

Posted by Anna Spargo-Ryan on Friday, January 22, 2016

That's dangerous because it's part of the "constant reinforcement that we're 'imagining it' or that we're 'just sad' or that we 'have to want to get better,'" she wrote.

And that mental illness equals lazy or unintelligent.

"Good people have mental illnesses," she continued. "We need them to feel supported and empowered in their places, whether that's work or home or school or somewhere else. Not that someone is waiting to 'catch them out.'"

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The image has been shared widely on social media, prompting Adonis to write an addendum on his original article. "… this has been unfair on those with a mental illness and their loved ones," he wrote. "This was never my intention. My intention was to achieve the opposite. At this I clearly failed. I'm genuinely sorry."

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