Fighting The Stigma Of Mental Ill Health At Work

Posted 26th of March 2019 by Bay Whitaker

Guest Blogger David Price, CEO and Wellbeing Expert at Health Assured shares advice for employers wishing to support their staff.

Most employers are aware of the fact that one in six employees will experience some form of mental ill health at a point in their life.  However, while mental health is an important topic that affects more than half of the population in the UK, there are still some forms of stigma attached to it.

Mental health stigma falls into two categories, self-stigma and social stigma. Self-stigma relates to individuals internalising the negative stereotypes associated with ill mental health. Social stigma (or public sigma) on the other hand, relates to the public’s perception of individuals dealing with mental health issues.

From discrimination to low self-esteem to isolation and everything in-between. Both types of stigma greatly affect an individual’s efforts to get better. In some cases, it can even worsen their condition.

There are also costs associated with businesses that refuse to address the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace. In 2017 employers were said to have lost over £42 billion as a result of staff turnover, sick days and lost productivity relating to ill mental health.

Employers can take steps to protect the mental wellbeing of their employees. To prevent and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace, employers can:

Rethink their definition of sick days:

Sick days at work normally involves physical illnesses. This could be a problem for employees experiencing ill mental health. While their illness may not be physically visible, it is a legitimate issue and should be addressed as such. Encourage employees to take sick days off work to focus on improving their mental health.

Educate employees:

Educating employees to identify and respond to the symptoms of ill mental health contributes to reducing the stigma associated with it.

Talk openly about mental health:

The most important way to fight the stigma of mental health at work is by talking about it. Employees are more likely to join in the conversation without fear of repercussions when their employers talk about it openly. The more we discuss mental health at work, the more people will reach out for support.

While there are other steps to take to reduce the stigma associated with mental health in the work, the steps listed above are easily implementable and cost effective.


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