We are well into the 21st century, and the stigma surrounding the mental illness is still with us. We are still nurturing it and allowing it to affect our lives and the lives of our loved ones, and even those of our co-workers.
We look at mental illness as a very personal thing and find talking about it very strange. At work, people are even more discouraged to talk about it. They are under the impression that they might be judged, that it may ruin their career or even cost them their job.
If only employers knew that mental health conditions take a chunk as big as $100 billion of their profits each year, they would find ways to encourage talking about mental health at the workplace and consider mental health care for employees.
Here are the four main reasons to talk about mental illness at the workplace.
Productivity is something that concerns both employers and people with mental illnesses. While the former are focused on revenue, the latter ones worry that their condition might affect their ability to stay as productive as before.
Anxiety alone can lead to panic attacks during work. Employees with anxiety can end up avoiding elevators, meetings, team building events and so on. Not because they don’t want to participate, but because they are afraid that their anxiety would embarrass them.
Additionally, if such a person doesn’t find that the work environment is able to provide support, or they feel uncomfortable talking about it with their managers or boss, their productivity will drop significantly. In such an environment, every day takes a toll on an employee’s confidence and happiness, which sends them down a never-ending spiral.
But if they are encouraged to talk with the boss, the situation could change for the better. Why? With the boss on their team, a person can make plans to better cope with their mental illness at the workplace. This kind of support and understanding would dramatically improve the employee’s confidence and job satisfaction, which would positively affect efficiency and productivity.
Better Relationships Outside of Work
Employees with a mental illness who work in a company where everyone looks away from their problem are under a lot of stress. They have to work shift after shift sure that, by now, everyone must know that they have problems. If there is no open conversation about it at all, they might feel alone, embarrassed and worried. This amount of stress affects their family, as well as their social life.
There is only one way around this stress – you must address it directly. In organizations where people can freely talk about their problems, mental health issues and how the treatment is progressing, the stress is brought down to a minimum.
After removing this load of stress from their back, employees with mental illness will be able to form and maintain better relationships outside of work, by simply not unloading pent-up stress on their loved ones and friends.
It Can Help Get Rid of The Stigma
The mental illness stigma is a very hard one to live with, which people with some form of mental illness would know best. Living with such an illness is like waging war on an invisible enemy, while everyone around you tells you that you are OK and that there is nothing wrong.
In any case, the stigma makes it even worse for people experiencing these issues. They are not accepted for who they are and they are often considered weak, or in some instances, even lazy or hungry for attention.
How can companies help get rid of this stigma once and for all? The process of de-stigmatization begins in therapy when these people are told that their mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. Then it continues at home and in relationships with friends and their significant other, only to hit a wall at the workplace – just because there are people who are, for whatever reason, not sensitive about the issue.
In order to go through mental illness, these people need to be accepted as they are in all spheres of their lives, and not just accepted, but encouraged. This is why organizations have to at least consider organizing training for all their staff in order to bring them closer to the subject.
The stigma plays a crucial role in undermining self-efficacy and self-esteem. If we could get rid of it, the recovery process of people suffering from mental illnesses would be significantly shorter.
Healthy Company Culture
In the end, we will address the benefits of building a supportive company culture. If you are not aware, there are a lot of people who suffer from different mental illnesses, and in spite of them, they have become experts in their fields.
What if there is an expert employee with an obsessive-compulsive disorder out there looking for a job? They are an expert and their mental illness makes them very productive. They become interested in your company, only to soon discover that your reputation precedes you – your company is not really supportive and accepting when it comes to mental health conditions. That’s one great employee that you’ve lost.
Talking about mental illness at the workplace will result in creating a workplace where everyone feels welcomed and supported. It’s basically, a win-win scenario, where people with mental illness feel accepted while the company reaps the benefits of their increased self-confidence, efficiency and devotion to their work.
This will also send a strong message to all other employees. Since nobody can be sure about whether or not they are going to experience mental health problems down the line, your employees will feel secure while working for you. Knowing that if one day they become mentally ill, the company they work for will make it easier for them to go through the treatment.
In the end, it all boils down to giving your employees the freedom to be open about their problems, even while they are at their workplace. By showing appreciation and working with them to develop plans that will enable them to stay as productive as before, you will build a healthy company culture and not only retain your employees but attract new valuable ones.