According to an Assocham survey, over 43% of private-sector employees in India suffer from mental health concerns at work. In addition, according to a 2017 WHO report, India is responsible for 18% of global depression cases.

While mental health concerns in the workplace are a reality for most businesses, the stigma surrounding mental health issues often hinders employees from seeking help. Stigma is the product of unfavorable views and prejudices regarding mental health concerns, and it indicates a lack of knowledge about these issues. External stigma frequently consists of other people’s harsh ideas, judgments, comments, and assumptions; internal stigma occurs when a person with a mental illness internalizes these negative signals.

Why Is Stigma Such a Serious Issue?

Despite the fact that most mental health issues are widespread and treatable, the stigma or negative preconceptions connected with mental illness sometimes prevent employees from discussing the problem. Even in progressive companies, some people keep their mental health difficulties hidden for fear of harming their reputation, jeopardizing professional relationships, or jeopardizing their careers.

Employees with untreated mental health disorders are more likely to have major and expensive health problems in general. People with mental health disorders, for example, have a twice-as-high risk of heart attacks and strokes and are twice as likely to acquire type 2 diabetes. This all adds up to missed workdays and lost productivity, which can have a substantial impact on an organization’s success.

How Can Companies Eliminate Stigma in the Workplace?

Aiding in the improvement of mental health and well-being at work benefits not only employees but also the organization and society as a whole. Here are some ways that businesses can help to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness:

Open Discussions and Public Awareness

The less effective stigma becomes as more people become aware of mental health concerns and the challenges that people with mental health disorders confront. Through education on mental health, employers can eliminate stigma, discrimination, unfavorable preconceptions, and fear in the workplace. It’s also critical to develop safe areas where employees may communicate about their problems without fear of being “judged.” Employees should not be afraid of being fired if they speak up in this way. By sharing their personal experiences, leaders may set the tone for this.

A Greater Focus on Language

It is a widespread practice in several organizations to refer to people with mental health conditions as “Downy,” “Scary,” or “Schizo.” This can contribute greatly to the stigmatization of mental illnesses. It’s past time to eliminate this practice and replace it with ones that lessen prejudice, discrimination, and stigma against people with mental illnesses.

Increasing the number of people who have access to resources and programs

Employee assistance programs (EAP) are widely used to support mental health in the workplace. Some employees may be hesitant to use this resource because of embarrassment or a lack of knowledge, but they may help to build a workplace that treats all employees equally and is free of prejudice and stigma. Companies can also give employees direct access to mental health information, applications, and even mental health doctors, making them feel more supported and cared for.

Mental Health Education

It is critical for every organization to foster a culture that values each employee and recognizes that mental health issues are common. Employee mental health training can help them recognize the indicators of someone coping with a mental health issue and connect them to resources for treatment. They can provide direction on how to listen nonjudgmentally, offer reassurance, and assess the risk of suicide or self-harm through plays and other activities.

Making mental health stigma a thing of the past is imperative for businesses. The common human connection that every person has with another person is more significant than the differences that divide us. Doubt and anxiety are a part of everyone’s life. Empathy, on the other hand, is required to recognize common ground and build on it in order to generate opportunity and hope for all.

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