Businesses must take action to tackle mental health stigma in the workplace

John O'Hanlon
- Leadership - Sep 29, 2015

Companies must act now to transform current perceptions of employees with mental health issues if we are to tackle increasing numbers of those seeking treatment.

Mental health stigma is a growing issue within the workplace.  According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), over two fifths of employers have seen an increase in the number of staff reporting mental health problems1, and almost half of employees (40%) will experience anxiety about their work2. Half of employees who have disclosed a mental health condition said that they experienced discrimination in their employment as a result, with colleagues making snide remarks or excluding them – something that needs to change3.

Nathaniel Smithies, Founder and CEO of online counselling platform PlusGuidance said: “1 in 4 will experience some kind of mental health problem and more than two thirds of individuals with a mental condition say that stigma and the fear of discrimination has prevented them from doing things they want to do. Whilst everyone has their role to play in changing the perceptions of mental health, employers in particular possess a considerable amount of power, and have a real responsibility to make an impact.  Businesses must implement modern measures if they are to transform the stigma of mental illness present in workplaces.”

There are a number of benefits4 for employers who actively promote mental health wellbeing throughout their workforce. This includes reduced employee stress and anxiety rates, increased productivity, decreased percentages of sick leave, and an overall boost in morale and working atmosphere.

Nathaniel continues: “One way of achieving this is through online counselling. We provide a platform for people to receive immediate access to therapists, securely and discretely, which if implemented in businesses, could help employers to provide their staff with additional support.

This way, less people will feel the need to seek NHS medical treatment, which already spends more money on mental health services than any other, as they will be able to discuss their treatment elsewhere.

“Whilst mental health stigma is changing, it is not happening quickly enough.  It’s clear that current methods are not as effective as hoped – but by providing a modern approach to mental health, we can reach more people and help support those in need.”

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