One in five Canadians experiences mental illness at some time in their lives. Now that Canadian workers are also dealing with a pandemic on top of other stressors, it is possible that some of your employees may not be feeling at the top of their mental wellness game.
Unfortunately, due to stigma, employees may not be as willing to come forward to seek help for mental health concerns. The reality of mental health stigma in the workplace is that most employees who disclose mental illness are not treated with the same compassion as those that disclose physical ailments.
Most people are affected by illness at some time in their lives. Employers must get on board with supporting mental wellness at work. After all, workers who feel good are generally more productive, engaged, and satisfied with their jobs, all of which have a positive impact on organizational outcomes.
What is Stigma?
Stigma manifests itself in incorrect, negative stereotypes and sometimes discriminatory behaviours.
One manifestation of stigma is the incorrect belief that employees who receive accommodation for mental illness are being favoured or given preferential treatment. Another manifestation of stigma is that the person is weak, or even faking. Unfortunately, the stigma persists. The only way to reduce or eliminate it is to educate and inform.
There are many ways to reduce mental health stigma in the workplace.
Lead By Example
Leaders must show that they understand that mental health and wellness are important, and that they support mental health initiatives in the workplace. When leaders support mental wellness, workers feel they can discuss their wellness needs at work. As a result, stigma will diminish.
Mental Wellness Policies and Programs
Implementing policies and offering programs aimed at mental wellness – and encouraging workers to use them – will further reduce mental health stigma in the workplace. Many employers understand the benefits of an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP), which provides access to councillors, financial wellness professionals, addictions specialists, and more. The goal of an EAP is to provide employees with support beyond the support an employer can offer.
Additionally, most employers are now implementing open-door policies, to allow workers to come to them to talk, ask for accommodation, or discuss concerns. Making open-door policies and EAPs commonplace is helping to reduce the stigma around asking for help.
Access to Resources
Sometimes an employee needs more help than an employer can give. When this is the case, an employer can provide the employee with access to additional resources. To reduce stigma, ensure that employees know that there are additional resources available if needed and that you’ll help them access the help they require.
Wellness at Work
Some workplaces are reducing stigma at work by implementing wellness programs. Examples of this include implementing daily stretch breaks, making quiet rooms available, and providing paid wellness days.
Without education, information, and open attitudes, the stigma will endure. Offering Psychological Health and Safety Training is a great way to start the conversation and work toward reducing mental health stigma in the workplace.
BEST Safety Training Can Help
BEST Safety Training offers Psychological Health and Safety Training. This course is delivered online for your safety and convenience, so employees can safely participate in training while maintaining a safe and healthy physical distance.