About 1 in 100 people live with a mental health condition called Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder. The two terms refer to the same condition with the same symptoms, the names themselves are a matter of preference. Some people feel that Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder sounds offensive and some people think the same about Borderline Personality Disorder. Whatever term you prefer is up to you.
Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder is a mental health condition that causes people living with it to feel high levels of distress on a regular basis. This can greatly impact how they live, work, and connect with others. The main symptoms are:
- Emotional instability
- Disturbed patterns of thinking or perception
- Impulsive behaviour
- Intense but unstable relationships with others
As the mental health condition is one that causes long-term issues that impact daily life and everyday tasks, it can be defined as a disability in the U.K. If you feel that you are experiencing these symptoms and have not yet been diagnosed by a doctor or a mental health professional, you should make an appointment with your local GP to explore your options.
EUPD at Work
Naturally, living with a condition with symptoms such as these makes employment more difficult than for other people. Many people with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder find it difficult to maintain jobs due to their symptoms of instability and impulsivity. They can also find it difficult to keep up with the everyday tasks needed in the workplace due to the regular levels of distress and dysregulation.
However, people with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder can work and can be comfortable in their jobs. All it takes is the right kind of support put in place by both employee and employer. And people with the condition deserve this equal treatment, inclusion, and accessibility in the workplace, whether it is a challenge or not. After all, “Mental health should be a top priority at work because that’s where we spend most of our lives”.
On this page of our Disability Advice Hub, we want to talk more about Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder in the workplace and how it can be managed in the best way possible. First, by discussing how employees with the condition can best manage the situation and how they can get the support they need.
How Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder Can Affect You at Work
Many of the symptoms of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder can make work life more difficult. Struggling with intense but unstable relationships can make it difficult to work long-term with co-workers and managers. “Splitting” can cause you to quickly think the job and the people around you are awful and you can devalue them after previously having very positive thoughts about them. And sensitivity to rejection can make things like feedback and reviews very difficult indeed.
It’s important to recognise just how hard it can be to live with Emotionally Unstable Personality disorder. When you recognise this, you can allow yourself to take the support that you need as you accept that you really do need it.
What Support You Can Get as Someone With Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder
Managing Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder at work needs to be a team effort. Outside of yourself, the support you should get can come from:
Your managers and HR
Disclosing your disability at work might feel scary or uncomfortable at first, but it is very worthwhile in the long run. If you can talk to your employers about your condition and how it affects you at work, they will be able to understand why you are behaving in certain ways and they will be able to put the right things in place to help you at work.
While your GP won’t be a consistent source of support, they can help you liaise with the right services. Speaking to your GP about your symptoms and how severe they are can help you get the right referrals. It is also important that you call your GP if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts at any time as they can help you appropriately.
Community Mental Health Team
Often when you go to your GP about symptoms of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, they will refer you to your local CMHT. What support you will get might depend on your area. It usually involves assessment by a psychiatrist and then frequent meetings with a CMHT nurse, support worker, or support group. The CMHT will have specific services for people with personality disorders and they can be very helpful.
Private counselling through agencies or individual counsellors is a fantastic option for people with EUPD. Talking therapy can help you express how you feel and learn coping mechanisms to deal with those feelings. Some employers will be able to give you access to some free sessions of counselling through work, so it is worth asking them about this before you pay for any of your own.
Getting the support you need both in and outside of work will be crucial to maintaining a happy and healthy life in employment. Inside of work, your employer can make reasonable adjustments to the role and environment if they will make things easier for you. In fact, as EUPD can be classified as a disability, your employer is legally required to make these adjustments if they are able to. If they are not, Access to Work can help.
Let’s talk more about reasonable adjustments in the next section.
How Employers Can Help
There is a lot that employers can do to make the lives of their employees with Emotional Unstable Personality Disorder better. One of the main things you can do for an employee is to make reasonable adjustments that will make them more comfortable at work and put them on an even keel with their colleagues around them. Examples include:
- Allowing the employee to work remotely
- Giving flexi-time possibilities
- Offering breaks
- Having regular check-ins with the employee
- Allowing time off for appointments, counselling, and other support
- Providing any extra training or resources they might need
You can know what way is best to go by communicating openly and honestly with your employee. If they feel safe talking to you about their condition, you can put the best plan of action in place.
One of the best things you can do is take further training and learning to make sure that you understand the condition and how to deal with problems when they do arise. ASIST training can be perfect for employers of people with personality disorders as it can help you deal appropriately with suicidal thoughts and behaviours. This can be life-saving training and is well worth checking out.
It may also be appropriate to have a crisis plan in place with your employee, as people with EUPD can become distressed very quickly. Many people with the condition deal with suicidal thoughts and the urge to self-harm. Therefore, it is crucial to keep them safe. A crisis plan will have information about who to contact if they become unwell, such as family member, spouse, doctor, or counsellor. It will also have information about immediate techniques and strategies the employee can use to calm down and rebalance. You can use this crisis plan to support and encourage them to stay well and get help if needed.
If your employee is in high levels of distress and can’t be deescalated, call their GP or emergency services. You can prompt them to call a helpline such as Samaritans too.
No one ever said that being an equal and inclusive employer was easy. But, it is something so worthwhile and important to our community. Disabled employees deserve the best experience possible at work and committing to giving that to them is a wonderful thing.
You can start your journey as a Disability-Friendly employer today, right here on Careers with Disabilities.