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23 Sep 2016

Melanie Ehrenkranz, Mic.com (USA)

Apple employees say their mental health issues came from alleged hostile work environment

[originally published 21 Sep. 2016]

Before he worked for Apple's call center, Ben had a clean bill of mental health. Now, after about a decade working for the company, Ben has a debilitating fear of telephones. He's tried to kill himself twice.  He says it's all because of the environment at Apple.  "Every time I've been in the hospital and mental ward, there has been another Apple employee with me," Ben, a current employee of the company who is now on long-term disability, told Mic. "And I've been there three times."...

Mic spoke to a number of Apple employees, former and current, who attribute their mental health issues to the workplace environment at Apple, which they describe as toxic. In each instance, the Apple employee raised these concerns to human resources or their manager. In each instance, their complaints were met with silence — or retaliation...

"We have an amazing team at Apple who are dedicated to creating the world's best products and enriching people's lives," an Apple spokesperson told Mic in an email. "Our culture brings out the best in people and treating one another with dignity and respect is at the core. Employees are free to suggest new initiatives, raise concerns, and provide feedback... This work environment and culture are among the reasons we have such low turnover. " The spokesperson did not comment on the specifics of any single complaint.  

These problems are not unique to Apple — they're part and parcel of a larger, more pervasive mental health crisis, one which experts believe to be spurred by the intense and often hostile climates of Silicon Valley's tech startups.

But though these problems aren't endemic to Apple, a pattern of employees alleging discrimination and frustration suggests a work culture that both views mental health issues as a weakness and treats the reporting of the factors that contribute to the issues as a punishable offense.

[also refers to Foxconn (part of Hon Hai)]