Mental Health Psychological Health & Safety Well-being

Stand Up to Stigma – Mental Health

Standing up to stigma and mental health. Mental health suffers from a major image problem. Each year, one in five people in Canada will experience a mental health problem or illness every year.  Every single person in Canada will be affected by mental health issues – either directly with firsthand experience, or indirectly in someone they know  Yet  it seems we struggle to talk about it respectfully and responsibly.

Poor mental health can affects us at work. It is associated with

  • Decreased productivity
  • Mood irritability
  • Increased interpersonal conflict
  • Increased absenteeism, and short-term and long-term disability

Creating a safe and healthy workplace environment is essential.   Firstly, talking about our challenges can be difficult due to the stigma associated with opening up about our mental health. But not talking about it can be very isolating for those who are struggling.  

Why is this? 

Why is it so hard to talk about how we are feeling?  It is because of the stigma… what is stigma?

Stigma refers to negative stereotypes and beliefs that cause people to discriminate against those who are different. Despite more openness and understanding of mental health and mental illness issues over the past decade, physical and mental illnesses are still not viewed in the same way.

Imagine if you broke your leg, and your friends and family decided you were only looking for attention when it affected your ability to walk? Imagine if everyone around you treated you as if you had a serious character flaw because of that leg? How likely would you be to admit you had a problem? How likely would you be to seek treatment?

So here’s how we can reduce stigma in the workplace?

Ask and Listen – If you know someone who might be struggling with a mental health problem ask questions and listen. If that person is open to help you can:

  1. Help set up an appointment with a doctor
  2. Provide information about community based supports and/or a company’s EAP Provider

Don’t judge – Mental illness is just that – an illness that needs treatment. Read, listen and learn about mental health.

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” Glenn Close

Reach out to a support network.

Recovery from any illness requires a support network that includes medical professionals, family, friends and employers. Confiding in a close family member or friend, talking to a therapist or joining a support group can be helpful.

Encourage co-workers to seek out the support of others.  

Mental Illness often isolates us, human connection is vital for both our mental and physical wellbeing. Encouraging those to spend time with family and friends and take part in social gatherings.

Be an advocate for mental health.  

Educating ourselves on mental health.  Choosing language that doesn’t stigmatize further.  You can support others struggling with mental health by guiding them to appropriate resources. More resources –

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