Mental Health Awareness – focus on Stigma
Most people who have mental health problems report being misunderstood by family members, shunned and ignored by friends, work colleagues and health professionals, called names and much worse by neighbours. Stigma is the perception that a certain attribute makes a person unacceptably different from others, leading to prejudice and discrimination towards them.
This stigma and discrimination prevent people from seeking help which in turn can delay treatment and impair their recovery. It can lead to a feeling of isolation, excluding them from day-to-day activities and making it hard to build new relationships or sustain the ones they already have. It can also stop people getting or keeping jobs.
A viewpoint survey 2014/15 (Institute of Psychiatry) surveyed 1000 people using secondary mental health services in 5 locations in England and found that:
- 9 out of 10 people who experience mental health problems say they face stigma and discrimination as a result
- 60% of people said that stigma and discrimination are as damaging or more damaging than the symptoms of their mental health problem
- 35% of respondents said that stigma had made them give up on their ambitions, hopes and dreams for their life
- 27% said stigma had made them want to give up on life
Stigma around mental health is a key issue in the UK and in a survey 56% of UK adults said that they would not hire someone with depression even if they were the best candidate for the job. Thinking about this, it’s not surprising that less than half of employees say they don’t feel that they are able to talk openly with their line manager about their mental health issues.
Recent information from Deloitte estimated that poor mental health among employees’ costs UK employers £42 – 45bn each year (absence costs of £6.8bn, staff turnover costs of £8.6bn and presenteeism costs ranging from £26.6 to £29.3bn).
Employees may feel that they won’t be trusted with work if they were to disclose a mental health issue, or that they may be passed over for promotion. They may be apprehensive that colleagues and managers won’t believe the extent of the issue and think they are just being lazy or faking their illness.
So, what can we do to try and remove this stigma that affects so many of us? Maybe if we follow these simple lines, we can make a difference:
- Be kind
- Be aware of our own unconscious bia
- Be non-judgemental
- Be aware of our own pre-conceived perceptions
- Listen when we engage in conversation with someone
- Accept that people are different and be aware of what they can bring to the party
We all need to feel accepted, included and valued.
Together we can make a difference.