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 Combatting Mental Health Stigma in the Workplace

By: Jessica MousseauDiversity Insights
 Combatting Mental Health Stigma in the Workplace

Explore effective strategies to combat mental health stigma in the workplace, fostering a supportive and inclusive environment for all.

The World Health Organization highlights a shocking fact: two common mental health conditions, depression and anxiety, cost the global economy nearly $1 trillion USD annually.  This number shows the critical need for organizations to prioritize combating mental health stigma within their workplace.

In a time marked by increasing incidences of racial violence and hate crimes, the commitment to have a diverse and inclusive workplace is commendable. However, it’s just as critical to ensure employees feel supported, especially during these difficult times in the world.

Here we will discuss some ways to address mental health stigma in your workplace.

What is Mental Health Stigma?

Mental health stigma refers to the negative attitudes and perceptions toward people living with a mental illness. This stigma may lead to harassment or discrimination in the workplace, potentially influencing perceptions and behaviors towards those living with mental health conditions.  Creating an open, inclusive environment where everyone feels accepted, understood, safe, and supported can transform not only the workplace but also contribute to a more empathetic world.

Tips for Leaders to Counteract Mental Health Stigma

Leaders play an essential role in shaping workplace culture. Your behavior must reflect the workplace you want to lead. By learning more about supporting mental health and appropriate responses, you can be assured you’re prepared for any situation.

Here are some tips for how to work against mental health stigma in your organization:

Establish a Positive Working Environment

Minimize workplace risks such as job stress as much as possible by offering flexible scheduling and remote work opportunities.

Create a Mental Health & Well-Being Policy

This policy should be tailored to each organization’s unique. Consider including annual paid “mental health” days or incorporating breaks throughout the day for exercise, yoga, or meditation.

Communicate Your Commitment to Privacy & Employee Health

This helps your employees feel safe to share if they are living with a mental health condition and to be open and honest when it may be affecting their productivity.

Educate Your Team With Training

Online training can equip your team with the skills to collaborate more successfully with colleagues who have mental health conditions, enhancing team productivity.

Promote Mental Health Awareness

Accessible information and support accessible empower employees to understand mental health conditions better and show empathy towards those affected.

Fostering an Inclusive Culture

An inclusive cultures welcomes all employees, regardless of their mental health status or neurodiversity. Encouraging open dialogue allows them to feel accepted and heard. By taking steps to combat the mental health stigma, you help to make the world a more understanding and compassionate place.

While focusing on diversity and inclusivity, consider tools that can aid in this mission. Our Diversity Calendar and Online Diversity Training are designed to support organizations in building a truly inclusive environment. These resources are part of a comprehensive approach to embrace diversity in all its forms, ensuring every employee feels valued and heard.


How can I help reduce the mental health stigma at work?

First, educating yourself about mental illness helps you better understand those around you. Be aware of your attitude or bias too. Choose your words carefully and use people-first language such as a person living with mental illness (not a mentally ill person). Educate others on this language too. Support those around you and be an ally to those living with mental illness or substance abuse disorders.

What are some actions that create mental health stigma?

Lack of understanding from someone’s family, friends, or colleagues is the first thing that may lead to this hurtful stigma. Also, having fewer opportunities at work or school contributes to it. Bullying, harassment, or discrimination can be detrimental too.

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