Time to create conducive workplace atmosphere to overcome stigma linked to mental problems

Mental health stigma at the workplace is alive and kicking. In a recent survey, conducted in the United Kingdom by the London-based Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, an overwhelming majority of 85 percent of the participants agreed about stigma linked to mental health issues. Some 58 percent of the respondents disclosed that they would be uncomfortable sharing details of their illness with their manager. Only 20 percent considered their managers to be capable of providing support to them. Also, a resounding 26 percent disclosed that when they took a day off from work because of stress or any other such condition, they had fibbed about the reason. Women were more likely to lie about their illness and take a day off.

One respondent mentioned that the “grow up and get over it” attitude of managers was not helpful at all. It closed the channels of communication. Further commenting on the importance of training managers on employees’ sensitive needs, another respondent said, “They should encourage a culture where it is ok to talk. Get the buy in from senior managers and raise mental health awareness by rolling out training programs.”

Support networks exist but underused

Despite significant research in the field of mental health that emphasize on the need of prevention and support programs, people across the globe continue to suffer. Workplaces are still driven by stigma and employers are far from recognizing employees’ mental health problems. Consoling phrases, such as “man up” or “get a grip,” when one discloses his or her problem, are not helpful at all. Many people with a mental health problem fear they would be ostracized. Most are afraid they would lose their jobs, earn a bad reputation in the industry, or damage their relationships with colleagues and supervisors. There’s also the risk of future employers learning about the illnesses and judging them before shortlisting them or hiring. There are many who would continue to work even when they are extremely unwell, fearing backlash. However, people are less reticent in disclosing a physical condition.

Seeking mental health care services imply being more isolated, dejected and marginalized, and no employee is willing to take such a risk. Though subject knowledge has improved, there is a wide gap between acceptance and action. It is not as if support networks do not exist, they do exist, but not many people approach them due to the prevailing atmosphere of distrust.

Wellness in workplace

According to Article 27 of The U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), there is a legally binding global framework for promoting the rights of people with disabilities. The article recognizes that every person with a disability has the right to work, should be treated equally and not be discriminated against, and should be provided with support at workplace. It is important to know that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. According to World Health Organization (WHO), it is responsible for $1 trillion in lost productivity, globally, every year.

An individual spends more than half his day at the workplace. Inability to talk about his or her problems could be constricting for the worker. In most instances, the employee could be carrying stress back home, leading to further deterioration. This could strain his or her relationship with friends and family and result in loss of confidence or giving way to suicidal ideation.

Seek treatment for early recovery

Currently, the nation is reeling under the mental health crisis. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there were nearly 45 million American adults (18.3 percent) with any mental illness (AMI) in the past year. A significant 10.4 million had a serious mental illness (SMI). Such people are vulnerable to feelings of sadness, worry, anxiety and sleep problems. Like physical illnesses, these problems can worsen, if left untreated for a long period.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health problem, consult an expert without delay. The 24/7 Mental Health Helpline offers useful information about available treatments for psychiatric disorders. Call at our 24/7 mental health helpline 855-653-8178 or chat online with one of our representatives for more information about a mental health rehab center, near you.

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