Here’s How Employee Mental Health Strategies Can Perpetuate Stigma

in Featured, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

Mental HealthWell-meaning employee mental health advocates, including wellness leaders, may — in our zeal to address mental health — inadvertently reinforce or perpetuate mental health stigma. Here’s how:

1) Viewing stigma too narrowly, especially seeing it only as failure to seek treatment. Mental health stigma includes public stigma, characterized by lack of information (and stereotyping), prejudice, and discrimination, and self stigma, which includes internalization of social stigma stereotypes, reduced self-esteem, and reduced self-efficacy. Reluctance to seek treatment (or not being aware of treatment opportunities) is a critical consequence of stigma. But people who receive treatment, and people who don’t need treatment, experience stigma, too.

2) Not understanding how to address stigma. Anti-stigma campaigns are based on protest (e.g. speaking up against stereotyping); education (like the communication tactics employers commonly implement); and contact (interacting with people who have “lived experience” with mental health problems). Continue reading »

Employee Well-being, COVID-19, and the Future of Work

in Uncategorized, Wellbeing

Bus driver during COVID-19 (coronavirus) epidemicI don’t know what’s going to happen to the economy or what course the coronavirus pandemic will take. But I’ve had time to reflect on what a new world order may mean for employee wellness and the future of work.

Here are 10 hopes, fears, and questions (not predictions):

1) We’ll re-frame “meaningful work” — I recently heard, in an interview, a worker who delivers tortillas to grocery stores poignantly articulate what will prevail as a fresh take on meaning and work: Continue reading »

Employees with Mental Illness: Too Many To Be Obscured

in Uncategorized, Wellbeing

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 20% of people live with a mental illness.

past year prevalence of Any Mental Illness among U.S. adults

Mental and behavioral disorders are the 3rd-leading cause of disability in the U.S. That’s a lot and warrants special attention.

Chart of the leading causes of disability, showing mental and behavioral health as the 3rd leading cause

Not everyone recovers from mental illness. Many (here, I don’t have stats, but the 20% figure  —  and my own observations  —  suggests this is true), suffer their entire lives with mental illness, and an increasing number of people end their lives as a result. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. We need to help these people.

Mental health and emotional wellbeing, unquestionably, are important for everyone. But in the wellness industry’s well-meaning enthusiasm for covering everyone under the mental health umbrella, we must be sure not to marginalize the large portion of people experiencing mental illness.

If we do communicate that there’s no difference between someone with a common disabling mental illness  —  like PTSD, bipolar disorder, and anorexia nervosa, as well as severe depression and anxiety  —  compared to anyone else who may be going through a tough stretch in an otherwise smooth-sailing life, we risk perpetuating mental health stigma rather than alleviating it.

If you’re thinking about implementing a mental health strategy in your workplace, check out the Workplace Mental Health resources available here on the Jozito website.