Discrimination affects people with bipolar disorder and domestic workers

It is a manageable condition that requires medication and treatment. Domestic workers have labor rights; it is necessary to sanction employers who fail to register them with the IMSS. March 30 is the World Day for Bipolar Disorder and Domestic Workers.

Discrimination affects people with bipolar disorder and domestic workers
March 30 is the World Day for Bipolar Disorder and Domestic Workers. Photo by micheile || visual stories / Unsplash

Discrimination, social marginalization, and stigma damage people with bipolar affective disorder, a situation similar to that faced by domestic workers; March 30 was established for the worldwide commemoration of both social groups.

This condition, characterized by alternating manic and depressive episodes, affects approximately three percent of the world's population, according to figures from the World Health Organization, explains Samuel Acosta Galván, an academic at UNAM's School of Psychology.

It is controllable but requires medication and treatment for several years, which allows people to be functional, feel happy in their environment and live adequately.

On the occasion of World Bipolar Disorder Day, which is commemorated on March 30 -the birthday of the painter Vincent Van Gogh, who was diagnosed with this condition- the university expert explains that during periods of depression, people become depressed and lose interest in work, school, family, social and sexual matters.

"There is a generalized deterioration and this lasts for two or three years, hence the difficulty in diagnosing it. Then, it goes on to states of great agitation, where it seems that the person is fully confident that he or she can carry out any activity without encountering difficulties," says the doctoral candidate in the area of Psychology and Health.

If there is a greater presence of manic periods, it is bipolar disorder type one; on the other hand, if there are more depressive periods, it is type two. The diagnosis usually occurs at the end of adolescence and early adulthood, from 15 to 25 years of age.

"Help should be sought from specialists - psychiatrists and psychologists - for the diagnosis to be reliable. It is about dysregulation of neurotransmitters with which the brain communicates; when they are dysregulated, they generate variations in moods, which can be noticeable to the people around those who have this disorder," he indicates.

Psychiatrists can help in the aspect related to medications to stabilize the mood; and psychologists through behavioral therapies that allow patients to find ways to relate to the external world and perform their daily activities in society.

Acosta Galván assures that detection is made difficult because there is still a stigma attached to mental illness. In addition, cultural issues affect them, such as men being attributed with being impulsive when making decisions, being impulsive.

"Rather than thinking of a possible bipolar disorder, a person is said to be adventurous. For example, if he has several accidents, he is said to be a risk-taker, but he probably has a neuronal dysregulation that leads him to put himself in constant risky situations," he argues.

In the case of women, they are expected to be calm and trouble-free, and their disorder may go unnoticed by their family and/or school. "In women, there are more requests for consultation when they are adults because there are more symptoms related to depression. Thus we see how cultural norms affect both: while in men it seems that what is normal is mania, in women it is believed that what is normal is depression," he explains.

They enjoy rights

In Mexico, domestic workers who are paid and assist families have labor rights that must be fulfilled, through legal oversight of their work and sanctions for employers who fail to comply with obligations such as their registration with the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), payment of Christmas bonus and respect for working hours, considers Fiorella Mancini, Ph.D. in sociology and researcher at the Institute of Social Research (IIS) of the UNAM.

Because they are an unprotected sector, in 2018 the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation approved Minister Alberto Pérez Dayán's draft of the direct appeal 9/2018, determining that it is unconstitutional that employers are not obliged to register domestic employees with the IMSS.

From that decision, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, through the Decent Work Unit, monitors compliance with the regulations and ensures their incorporation into social security, to protect their human labor rights to achieve an impact on their welfare, their families, and community.

However, in addition to supervision, which in many cases is not effective, there must be sanctions for employers (generally other women) who do not comply with these obligations, as is the case in Argentina, Uruguay, and Costa Rica, where this sector has protected rights and more dignified work.

The percentage of paid domestic workers is high: between five and ten percent of working women in Mexico are engaged in domestic work.

In Mexico there are approximately two and a half million of them; more than 95 percent lack access to health services; 80 percent have no labor benefits; 46 percent (almost half) do not receive a Christmas bonus, vacations, or a fixed schedule; they earn low wages, have long working hours and their working conditions are deeply precarious and informal.

In addition, they still suffer from discrimination, classism and social marginalization acknowledges the sociologist, who considers that better public policies are required for this sector where regulation is enforced. Incentives are needed for employers to register them with social security and sanctions if they do not do so; also a pension so that they can retire and access to INFONAVIT so that they can have housing.

Based on the National Survey of Occupation and Employment 2018 of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, 2.4 million people are paid household workers, practically five percent of the employed population in Mexico today; 95 percent are women. Of these, 85.8 percent perform cleaning tasks in private homes, 8.2 percent are caregivers and 5.0 percent are laundresses and/or ironers in private homes. One-third began working as children.