Creating a Stigma-Free Work Environment

Stigmas cause people to feel ashamed and create low self-esteem as well as negative perceptions. Many people who have a mental illness have, at some point in their lives, been blamed for their conditions. Their symptoms have been referred to as a phase or something they can control. This creates feelings of discrimination in the work environment. Eight out of 10 people who suffer from a mental illness report feelings of shame and more than 33% express concerns about job security. The number one mental health concern that employers are seeking to address is the stigmas that come with mental illness. Training to address this stigma comes with available resources and benefits, focused on increased awareness, as well as suicide prevention programs. 

Untreated Mental Illness Impact on Productivity and Workforce Health 

Mental illness has a significant impact on the well-being and health of workers in the US and their families. 20% of US adults experience a mental illness of some sort. 70% of adults with mental illness go untreated. 22% receive adequate care. The bottom line is that the inadequate treatment also impacts employers, which is manifested in poor performance, absenteeism, additional healthcare cost, and low morale. Recent studies show that of missed workdays 62% are connected to mental health conditions. 

Creating a Stigma-free Environment 

  • Management training: Train managers to know first aid for mental health to know how to direct employees to get help as well as the signs of mental illness. 
  • Awareness campaign/De-stigma: Share employee testimonials, talk openly about mental illness, and show support from leadership. Re-naming mental health campaigns can help reduce stigmas. 
  • Create a relaxation/quiet space: Having a physical space designated to promoting mental health will help your organization feel your support for taking time for self-care. 
  • Resource Promotions: Highlight the equality of mental and physical illness benefits and Highlight Employee Assistance Programs. Develop toolkits for managers to develop mental health resources.  
  • Explore virtual solutions: Offering tele-behavioral health treatments for your employees may help them become more likely to seek treatment because some employees feel more comfortable talking about their feelings from home. 
  • Sessions to host information for life’s toughest challenges: Invite professionals to explore issues such as coping with an aging parent or with adolescents. Trust can be built through these types of meetings and demonstrate that the organization has credible resources and cares not only for employees but for families as well. 

Small changes can have a big impact on the stigma changes as well as the culture of your organization. Changing the way you talk about mental health can be super meaningful to your employees and their families. 

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