Help Reduce Mental Health Stigma At Your Workplace

And why should you care?

Written by Dr. Andrew Miki, Founder and CEO of Starling Minds Inc.

Employers lose billions of dollars every year in lost productivity from absenteeism, reduced work output (presenteeism), and increased disability claims. By 2020, the World Health Organization projects that depression will be the second leading cause of disability next to heart disease. According to Health Canada mental health disorders in the workplace cost Canadian companies nearly 14% of their net annual profits. Imagine what you would do if you would be able to grow your profits with that same percent!

However, if it is true that 1 in 5 people experience a mental health problem, how can we make sense of the fact that either you or someone close to you will be affected? According to Canadian Mental Health Association and Royal CBD more than 60 per cent of people with mental health problems and mental illness won’t even seek the help they need. Some of the most common reasons include a fear of being judged, getting negative comments/feedback, and the stigma that surrounds mental health.

Thanks to progressive initiatives such as Bell’s “Let’s Talk” and the Canadian Mental Health Association’s “Ride Don’t Hide,” the stigma associated with mental illness is beginning to lift as more and more individuals are coming forward to share their stories.

Most people view mental health as a black and white issue where people are either normal or crazy. Although people have a general feel for themselves what these terms mean to them, their views are not usually based on education or facts. As a society, it seems impossible to define normality when there is such a diverse range of people, cultures, and viewpoints. Consequently, it seems as if normality is in the eye of the beholder and this can lead to endless debate.

Rather than focusing on what is normal, I think it is more constructive to consider what does a mentally healthy workplace look like? May 4 – 10 is Mental Health Awareness week in Canada. Use some time during this week to think about what mental health means to you and try to open up a discussion with your co-workers, colleagues and superiors. It will be important to find ways to educate yourself and your team with facts. Your HR department can help by providing the tools and skills you need to become more resilient to stress (Tip: it much more comprehensive than diet, exercise, and taking time to relax).

Reducing stigma around mental illness in your workplace will help strengthen your workplace community, increase productivity, and create a more resilient workforce. This will have a positive effect on net profits and, more importantly, it will create a strong company culture to help your organization grow.

Dr. Andrew Miki is a registered psychologist in Vancouver and the Founder and CEO of Starling Minds Inc., a company that focuses on developing an online program for organizations that provides education and a mental health toolkit to manage stress and prevent depression & anxiety.