Mental health stigma can have far-reaching implications on our lives, as it is a prevailing opinion that is often internalized by many people towards certain groups. We may not always be aware of how stigma manifests in different aspects of life until we experience its tangible effects firsthand - such as in the workplace.
The World Health Organization has declared burnout an official syndrome due to continual work-related stress. This has led organizations to normalize conversations about mental health issues and implement measures to solve them.
Sprout’s recent study, The Great Resignation Part 2: The Journey to the Great Retention, found that an unhealthy work environment is one of the leading causes of employee dissatisfaction and poor performance. 24% of respondents reported this to be true - from lack of support and unsatisfactory management, these toxic settings can harm well-being, working relationships, collaboration efficiency, and even health.
In addition, Sprout’s research found that 40% of respondents indicated that the lack of wellness programs led to their resignation.
The stigma surrounding psychological distress remains in many workplaces today due to the absence of wellness programs. This particularly affects employees who are afraid to openly discuss their struggles because of potential negative consequences.
Organizations should embrace their responsibility to prioritize the well-being of employees. It is up to managers and team leaders to ensure a healthy balance between business needs and employee welfare.
Companies must normalize these conversations to encourage open dialogue and positive outcomes regarding mental health.
What is mental health stigma?
Mental health stigma is an unacceptable attitude towards individuals experiencing mental health difficulties, like anxiety or depression.
This can bring about unjust actions in the workplace, including tormenting and harassing people with mental illnesses. The importance of this conversation cannot be overstated; according to MindNation's study, 53% of employees struggle with their mental health.
Companies must not tolerate stigma and should take decisive actions to combat it in many working environments so that all employees feel safe and accepted.
What is the root cause?
Unconsciously, people are exposed to mental health stigma via the films and television programs they watch. They may even overhear family, acquaintances, or colleagues making offensive remarks about individuals with psychological difficulties.
Eventually, these messages become ingrained in their minds, shaping how they perceive themselves and others around them.
Societal beliefs can also be a foundation of mental health stigma. To illustrate, in the Philippines, mental illness is largely seen as a taboo subject, and many Filipinos opt to keep their struggles private to avoid being branded 'crazy.'
Sadly, this means that they often fail to access essential professional assistance.
Why Is It Essential For Companies To Eliminate This Stigma?
Mental health stigma can have a detrimental impact on both employees and the company. A study by BMC Psychiatry shows that employees who feel stigmatized for their mental health condition are more likely to avoid seeking treatment and may even leave their job due to a lack of support from their employer. This can result in decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and higher company turnover rates.
Promoting a workplace culture that eliminates mental health stigma can improve employee morale and job satisfaction. Employees who feel supported and valued are more likely to be engaged in their work and have higher productivity levels. This can ultimately lead to a more positive work environment and increased results for the company.
Plus, eliminating the stigma can improve the overall public perception of the company. By taking a proactive approach to mental health and creating a supportive environment, companies can demonstrate their commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social responsibility. This can help attract more talent, customers, clients, and investors to help build trust in the company’s brand.
Ways to Eliminate Mental Health Stigma in the Workplace
- Revitalize Your Work Culture
Cultivating a positive work culture that embraces diversity and seeks to eliminate mental health stigma is critical today. Meaningful connections among team members can only occur when people feel supported and valued, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or mental health status.
By championing DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) initiatives, you can tap into the strengths and talents of a diverse workforce and enrich the company's core values.
In addition, establishing clear goals directly associated with products/services is essential, as well as outlining how this mission aids employees working together to sustain stakeholder-client relationships. By prioritizing diversity and mental health stigma reduction, you'll create a workplace culture that empowers everyone to succeed and thrive.
- Train managers and supervisors
Instead of the traditional annual performance reviews, companies should aim to have regular one-on-one meetings with managers and supervisors to foster a conversation about mental health. This is an opportune time for companies to set professional goals and wellness plans that best suit each employee's needs.
Managers don't need to act as a replacement for psychiatrists, yet they should inquire, "How are you doing today?" If a worker has difficulties, their manager will have the knowledge and skills to empathize and validate them while guiding them towards mental health support.
- Encourage Awareness of Mental Health with the Right Tool
Besides training your managers, leveraging HR tools can help combat mental health stigma and promote a healthy work environment.
Sprout offers Wellness, which gives employees access to holistic wellness solutions that provide different Wellness services tailored to help address various physical and wellness concerns.
It gives employees actionable support through consultations and group activities for their emotional and physical well-being. This also helps in combating work burnout leading to better mental health.
Through Wellness, companies can improve employer brand and company culture, attract more applicants to the client's company, advocate for mental health, and give accessible and tangible solutions for employees.
Fostering a Workplace that Values Employee Wellness
It's critical to recognize that mental health is not a standalone issue; it is intrinsically intertwined with all other aspects of work and life. Every dialogue, every email exchange, and every company gathering gives us a chance to promote the notion that it is acceptable for employees to ask for aid when they require it.
Sprout is here to assist you in becoming the ideal employer. Sprout's Wellness enables employers to create a safe and secure environment for their employees, enhance general well-being, and boost productivity.
Book a consultation with us to start your journey in fostering a workplace that values employee wellness.
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