Turning a Stigmatizing Experience Into A Positive


Did you read over the weekend about Palmer Advertising in San Francisco, and the ad they put on Craigslist? No? Apparently they are looking for a business development person in the Stockton, California area and the ad, along with job description and required experience, listed this line:

“The successful candidate will have … Sanity. If you are a prima donna, bipolar, or require anger management, please go to a big agency where you can hide in the crowd.”

When Kristina Beard, fellow blogger and mental health advocate, alerted me to it this morning, I fired off an email to Mr. Palmer, explaining how his advertisement, while stigmatizing to persons with Bipolar Disorder, is also very, very illegal.

EEOC law states:

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations. The ADA’s nondiscrimination standards also apply to federal sector employees under section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, and its implementing rules.
An individual with a disability is a person who:

  • Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
  • Has a record of such an impairment; or
  • Is regarded as having such an impairment.

In my email to Mr. Palmer, I cc’ed a few of his clients, including the Bank of Stockton, and The San Francisco 49ers President, Jeb York.

This afternoon I received a reply from Mr. Palmer, apologizing profusely. It sounds like he’s done this a few times over the past few days. He said, “I have admitted it was wrong. I am not sure what else to do. It was a regrettable and terrible mistake.”

So I gave him a suggestion. Reach out to the San Francisco chapter of NAMI and offer some free marketing services. That way he can help others learn about the damaging impact of stigma around mental illness.

And he agreed. He will. So NAMI San Francisco, let me know when Mr. Drew Palmer contacts you. And thank you, Mr. Palmer, for realizing the gravity of the situation, and your willingness to do something positive to keep others from making a similar faux pas.

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  • Georgiana January 17, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Way to go, Christa! Mr. Palmer, I'm very happy that you see your actions were wrong. I hope you will follow thru and do some good!

  • Cindy Nelson January 17, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Thanks for speaking up and getting some results Chrisa, my hero! I hope you follow up with NAMI San Francisco and see how it goes.

  • gg January 17, 2012 at 1:37 am

    Kudos to you Christa for talking the time to follow up on this and for NOT letting it slide. Hopefully this "horrible wrong" will end in a positive marketing campaign for both NAMI San Francisco and Palmer Advertising. Having worked many years in advertising, I can certainly relate to the name-calling and inappropriate adjectives that gains the public's attention. Yet, this doesn't make it right! We would not use the "R" word to describe a trait not wanted in a job description, so why throw in "bipolar"? Keep up the 'fight' to 'stamp out stigma' — for without this, nothing will change!

  • Amanda Lynn (mommylebron) January 17, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Once I again I am proud and humbled that we have such a strong and dependable advocate in our corner. It never fails to amaze me both how you are so on top of things and how well received you are. Keep it up!

  • Anonymous January 17, 2012 at 3:19 am

    Unfortunately, in 2012 grown men and women with Bi-Polar, or any number of mental disorders still need an advocate. This is in no way to deflect your hard work nor intelligence, Christa; it is just a truism, a matter of fact. Mental illness will never be accepted in society; due to the simple fact that society has not be exposed, nor explained to. Unlike Autism, even GBLT are all worthy causes, and I agree; have had backing by millions of people. Studies tell us that sexual orientation begins in the womb, autism could be caused by the infant given an injection. But Borderline Personality Disorder? Craziness.

  • Chrisa January 17, 2012 at 3:21 am

    Anonymous: but look at those causes. GBLT advocates have been working for decades to fight stigma. Same with the autism community. Mental health advocacy is, relative to those, in its infancy. It takes those of us that are willing to stand up and be counted – to make a fuss when stigma is perpetuated – to keep the candle of hope lit. Lots of us are lighting candles. Someday soon, the world will see our light.

  • Harper Grant January 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Good job Chrisa! Here is a virtual {{hug}} for taking notice and action! Thank you!

  • JuliesMum January 17, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Fantastic, well done. Smart work – especially cc'ing some of his big clients.

  • Mister Drew January 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    As I stated elsewhere upon reading this: Way to get things done, Chrisa! Glad this negative situation seems to have become a win-win!