Though mental health is extremely important to pay attention to, it’s sadly the last thing many people talk about. This is especially true for mental health in the workplace: people are scared to discuss it in the event that doing so will cost them their job or any future employment. Because of this, it’s the job of employers to change the stigma surrounding mental health. Mental health costs employers more than $100 billion and 217 million lost workdays a year; addressing mental health issues in the workplace will help to address that, productivity and employee retention.
Talking about mental health in the workplace and hammering out the stigma that surrounds doing so will not only make people more productive but also happier and more confident in themselves at work. Working in an environment that doesn’t encourage speaking about these mental health issues can lead to employees not seeking out treatment or potentially getting fired since they feel they can’t talk about it. Working on changing this stigma can allow employees and their bosses to work together on improving performance and coping with the mental illness at hand.
Of course, it’s not easy to break such a large and ingrained stigma. Though that stigma is slowly but surely going away in society at large, many people still talk about mental illnesses in a negative light. Overhearing these comments at work will create an unaccepting environment for anyone at work who does have a mental illness and make them view these issues in a negative light. To break the stigma, the work environment should consistently have positive rhetoric about addressing mental health issues.
To do this, employers need to start creating an accepting work culture. Encourage employees to be open about their mental health issues or something that makes them unique; this will make employers feel obligated to address mental health and view it as a normal human condition. Creating this positive company culture will attract more employees while retaining current ones—many people forego salary increases to remain with a company that accepts their mental illnesses. This is a huge advantage against companies that have larger budgets but aren’t accepting.