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Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness in the Workplace: Potential Interventions

Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness in the Workplace: Potential Interventions

Between inaccurate depictions in movies and music, and common misconceptions, mental health stigma is a cause for concern. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience a mental illness in a given year, ultimately costing America $193.2 billion dollars in lost earnings. What’s more, many people with mental illness do not seek treatment for their disorder (less than a third, according to NAMI) – why is this? Fear of being judged, fear of disclosing one’s condition, and the disbelief that treatment is really needed are just a few common reasons for why this doesn’t occur as often as it should. Stigma deprives our communities of support, accommodations, and ultimately, treatment.

Kaiser Permanente claims that 62% of missed work days can be attributed to mental health conditions, and employees with depression are 20% to 40% more likely to become unemployed because of their condition. If a workplace culture doesn’t support those with mental illness, employees may feel ostracized – ultimately leading them to miss days at work in favor of comfort and support at home. Taking a stand against stigma in the workplace is a wonderful way to show employees they are respected, cared for, and valued – and that they have a support system in the 2nd place they spend most of their time – at work.

Workplace interventions that target stigma against mental illness are a fantastic way to educate employees as well as boost their sense of support with the company. A 2016 study published in the journal BMC Psychiatry sought to review literature that was previously conducted on workplace interventions, with particular attention to the following areas of research: 1) knowledge of mental illness and recognition of symptoms, 2) attitudes towards individuals with mental health problems, and 3) supportive behavior. A total of 16 studies were analyzed, with the majority of populations found in studies to be centered on managers/supervisors and first-responders, such as police officers.

Intervention formats found from the studies involved role play, online training, psychoeducation, workshops, Trauma Risk Management (TRiM), Crisis Intervention Training (CIT); all interventions targeted knowledge, attitudes, and behavior towards mental illness. After in-depth analysis, researchers found that these interventions tended to change at least one of the three components for participants, indicating a strength in conducted them in the workplace. Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge your team has of mental illness, the better prepared they can be to recognize the symptoms of it, manage it, seek help for it, and work with you through it.

If you haven’t already, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center for programs to best suit your needs. You may also obtain valuable information on hosting an intervention in your workplace.

The Center for Professional Recovery offers individualized treatment programs for professionals in a range of industries. Call us today for information on our specialized treatment: 855-422-4129

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