In 2020 nearly half of Americans reported that the coronavirus crisis was harming their mental health. Like all health issues, mental health issues will invariably exist in the workplace; however, trends show that less than 40% of individuals experiencing a mental health problem ever seek help. Those who do spend an average of 10 years suffering in silence before seeking treatment.
The fact is that most Americans do not seek help for mental health issues because of stigma – prejudicial attitudes and discriminating behavior directed towards individuals with psychological and emotional problems. Perceived stigma or self-stigma refers to the sufferer internalizing these perceptions leading to feelings of shame and embarrassment. As a result, stigma can serve as a severe barrier preventing access to mental well-being benefits and treatment that may otherwise provide substantial relief. Because American adults spend more time working than any other waking activity, employers are uniquely positioned to reduce stigma and improve access to mental health supports significantly.
Destigmatize the Workplace
Although stigma is bigger than any one of us, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health recommend some actions we can all take to help destigmatize the workplace:
- Know the facts. Educate yourself about mental illness and substance use disorders.
- Choose your words carefully. What we say and how we speak can impact the attitudes and behavior of others.
- Focus on the positive. Mental illness, including addictions, is only one part of any individual’s experience; it is not who a person is.
- Support people. Treat everyone with dignity, respect, and encouragement.
Your company’s employee assistance program can help address stigma in your workplace. For example, CMG Associates has developed training such as “Creating a Mental Health Friendly Workplace” and “Reducing Stigma in the Workplace.” We also provide customized manager mental health training to help employers institute work environments that are supportive and inclusive.
Contact us today to learn how to design a mental health-friendly workplace program dedicated to reducing stigma and meeting the needs of your business.