World Mental Health Day 2017- “Mental health in the workplace”

DR. ATHOKPAM RANITA DEVI

 

Continued from previous issue

Stigma and discrimination in the workplace Stigma plays a negative role by decreasing the chances of people seeking proper diagnosis and treatment.

According to a 2008 survey in Canada, just 50% of Canadians would tell friends or co-workers that they have a family member with a mental illness, compared to 72% who would discuss a diagnosis of cancer and 68% who would talk about a family member having diabetes.

Though mental illness is experienced by a significant proportion of the workforce, it is still seen as a taboo issue.

An estimated 8% of the working population has a diagnosable mental disorder and about 14% have mental health problems in the workplace.

Employees are afraid of discussing it with co-workers and bosses. They don’t want to lose their jobs, damage relationships or risk future employers learning of illnesses and judging them. The stigma of mental illness keeps them silent. Roughly 85% of employees’ mental health conditions are undiagnosed or untreated.

Employers have the opportunity to change this climate of fear regarding mental health at the workplace.

There is plenty of motivation for them to step up. Mental health conditions cost employers more than $100 billion and 217 million lost workdays each year. By addressing mental health issues in the workplace and investing in mental health care for workers, employers can increase productivity and employee retention.

Breaking the stigma, helping people become happier, confident, and more productive Let’s say there is an employee who has been diagnosed with panic disorder and suffers from panic attacks during work. He sometimes runs out of a meeting dripping with sweat. In an environment where he doesn’t feel comfortable talking about his panic disorder, the situation could become much worse. He might not seek treatment, causing his performance to suffer. His supervisors might consider firing him. In a workplace where he felt he could talk with his boss about the issue, the situation could turn around. The boss could recommend ways to cope with the panic disorder at the office. They could work together to create a plan that might allow the employee to improve his performance and become more valuable to the company. These results would improve his overall happiness and confidence.

Imagine a woman who deals with depression. She consults a mental health professional or a therapist who tells her that depression is nothing to be ashamed of. She is lucky enough to have family members and friends who help her fight that stigma. They accept her. Then she goes to work in the morning. No one talks about mental illness. It’s as if it doesn’t exist. On the rare occasions she does hear about it, the conversations are not positive.

Her co-workers don’t have enough education to be sensitive. They accuse people of using mental illness as an excuse to be lazy or receive special treatment. She wants to believe her therapist and loved ones when they say her mental illness isn’t a weakness.

TO BE CONTINUED


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