Mental Health Stigma

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Health Assured team

05 March 2019

Stigma and mental health are, unfortunately, a common problem in day-to-day life.

One in six employees experience some sort of psychological problem at work every year. And this leads to endless misconceptions about psychological wellbeing.

The result is these stigmas remains as one of the greatest barriers on mental wellbeing. So, it’s important and beneficial for employers to issues of mental health in the workplace.

Employers should promote support for those struggling with stigmas surrounding mental health issues. By doing so, you’ll benefit from a decline in staff turnover and an increase in productivity.

Let’s learn all about mental health stigma, different types of stigmas, and how to stop it affecting your workforce.

What is mental health stigma?

Mental health stigma involves viewing someone in a negative light because they suffer from a psychological illness or disorder. These illnesses range from depression to borderline personality disorder.

The causes of mental health stigma can come from ill-treatment, exclusion, and isolation–by individuals, or from whole groups.

As a society, we’re increasingly talking about mental health stigmas more; and learning how to support people going through illnesses at home or at work.

But unfortunately, negative stigma and stereotypes still exist, and further effort is needed to eliminate it completely.  

How stigma affects mental health in the UK

The stigma around psychological wellbeing has been detrimental to business activities when left unaddressed.

In 2017, staff turnover, sickness, and lost productivity resulted from negative mental health–costing employers over £42 billion.

This figure reinforces the strive for improving workplace health, not just for employee wellbeing but also for financial means.

Different types of mental health stigma

The two main categories found are social stigma (or public stigma) and self-stigma.

Social stigma is a negative stereotype associated with mental health problems. It marks employees experiencing issues as 'different' and can prevent them from fitting into societal realms.

An example of social stigmas is leaving employees out of activities or events because of a mental disability.

Self-stigma is when an individual deals with suppressive psychological issues. This can lead to low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness.

Both types of stigma can cause employees to feel unvalued, uncomfortable, and fearful of sharing their health conditions–let alone ask for help. This might be due to embarrassment or fears of being misunderstood by their colleagues

How to stop mental health stigma at work

There are many reasons for why mental health is a stigma we need to eliminate. Here are examples of mental health stigma at work and how to prevent them:

Talking openly about mental health

When you talk openly about employee wellbeing, your staff will gain the confidence to join conversations. Openly talking about mental health helps to take away some of the negative perceptions about it.

The more we talk about it, the easier it is to talk about–and more people will reach out for support.

Educating others about it

Training managers to identify and respond to mental health can support employees in the long run. It also collectively reduces misconceptions surrounding illnesses.

Consider introducing Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) which offer counselling for various issues around employee home and work life.

Be conscious of language

The type of language used when addressing mental health can have great impacts on others. We should all be aware of our words; and how they contribute to stigmas.

Redefine sick leave

Businesses recognise physical illnesses as genuine reasons to take sick leave. But not when you’re experiencing mental ill health?

While businesses are now recognising mental illness as a legitimate issue, not all organisations are on-board. We need to get more comfortable with this, and allow people to take sick leave for improving mental health.

Get expert advice on mental health stigma with Health Assured

Dealing with stigma at work can be challenging for many people employees.

As an employer, you must support and eliminate mental health stigma within your business. This will not only help staff welfare, but it also increase productivity and employee engagement.

Health Assured provides expert advice on mental health stigma. Our teams offer specialised knowledge on employee wellbeing whilst considering your business needs.

We also provide a 24/7 helpline, that’s open 365 days a year – helping you care for your staff all year round. Arrange a call back from an expert today on 0800 206 2532.

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