Mental Health: Stigma in the Workplace

Imagine its a Tuesday evening and you realise you are coming down with the flu and need to call in sick to work. You call your employer, visit your GP and maybe even get a medical certificate to hand in. You feel reassured, knowing you have that little slip of proof, evidence that you are not well enough for work and require some time at home to rest and recuperate. Time to get under the duvet and switch on Netflix! That wasn't that difficult was it?

Now lets say instead of this flu you've been fighting off, you are faced with something with less visible symptoms, such as depression or anxiety. You're symptoms might be so bad that you would happily swap them for a dose of the flu, but how do you explain them to your employer? Would you feel as confident in their understanding and accommodating your absence from work for depression as you would for the flu? 

Many people feel that they cannot be vocal at work about mental health or the possibility of taking time out when their wellbeing is suffering. They might feel that doing so would be too much of a risk, their employer wouldn't understand or their ability to keep on top of their workload would be questioned. This leaves you forced to "get on with it" and keep working until you burn out. Hiding issues with mental health at work can leave you feeling isolated, stressed and hopeless.

Accordining to, 1 in 6 Irish employees suffer from mental health difficulties. That is a lot of stressed out employees! What we need is more discussion regarding mental health and how it is as vital to human happiness and success as physical health whether in the workplace or at home. If you are experiencing difficulties getting support at work, why not take the first step to end the stigma and open up to someone. It could be a friend, a family member or a counsellor/psychotherapist. Perhaps there is a way to be open and honest with your employer. Many companies offer sessions of counselling as part of their package, so why not take them up on it?

Open up today and begin to heal the "invisible" pain you've been dealing with up until now. After all everyone needs a little extra help from time to time.

Some Links Worth Taking a Look at... - This website provides helpful tips on dealing with depression, stress and anxiety. They also have a support line you can call as well as a support email address. - This site offers free downloadable workplace mental health packs and encourages employers to host a fun event or coffee morning for staff to engage in talk about mental health. Why not get involved! - See Change work to promote positive change in the public's views on mental health and provide useful information on stigma in the workplace. - Green Ribbon month kicks off on May 1st. Keep an eye out for your chance to buy a ribbon supporting the open promotion and discussion of mental health in Ireland.