Eliminating The Stigma Around Mental Health In The WorkplaceIvy Madziva
Eliminating The Stigma Around Mental Health In The Workplace.
With the World Health Organization’s official announcement of burnout as a syndrome “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” it’s easy to talk about psychological stress and its consequences, but when it comes to people with mental health issues, many still feel the stigma attached to them — especially in the workplace.
In my work with managers and executives, I’ve found they commonly express fear for their jobs and reputations if word gets out that they have a mental health issue. They often believe others will assume that their performance will drop and that they will be less reliable. They further believe that treatment could impact their work lives, and therefore, they hope their problems might get better on their own, or they opt for strategies like self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, etc.
Such stigma is often based on wrong and distorted information and negative attitudes, and it often results in workplace discrimination and a lack of needed support.
Why Is It Important For Companies To Eliminate This Stigma?
It’s been estimated that “50% of the general population in middle- and high-income countries will suffer from at least one mental disorder at some point in their lives.” This can pose a challenge for many companies. Mental health problems can have an impact on employers and businesses directly through increased absenteeism, high staff turnover and poor performance; they also can have a negative impact on productivity and profits, as well as cause an increase in costs to deal with the issue.
Often, employees with mental health issues aren’t even aware that they might benefit from treatment. A study on the barriers to mental health treatment revealed that “low perceived need was reported by 44.8% of respondents with a issue who did not seek treatment.” It’s possible that they may think they’re just tired or overworked. Next to this, you often have managers who aren’t knowledgeable enough about how to spot underlying mental health issues in employees to react in time and offer support.
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