Stop the stigma: The fear of telling work about your mental illness

It is Mental Health Awareness Week and we reached out to our readers to have a frank and honest chat about mental health and the workplace.

If you’re suffering with mental health issues like depression or an anxiety disorder, then you know all too well that there are days when going into the office feels completely and utterly impossible.

You may be too anxious to get on your train or maybe your depression is so severe you can’t even manage to get yourself out of bed.

They are real and valid issues, but why are we so afraid to talk about them?

52 percent of SHEmazing readers said they have taken a ‘mental health’ day from work, but more often than not we give our boss a different reason for our absence.

There are so many incredible people working hard to break the stigma surrounding mental health disorders, but we still live in fear of telling someone that ‘I can’t go to work this morning because I’ve had a massive panic attack.’

We can often feel ashamed or embarrassed when opening up about our mental health issues, but why is this?

A fear of not being taken seriously is one of the biggest reasons. When asked if they felt comfortable talking to their boss about their mental health issues, a striking 83 percent of our readers said no.

So, what can workplaces do to help their employees when it comes to their mental health because saying ‘it is okay not to be okay’ simply isn’t enough anymore.

With suicide rates increasing, we need to provide proper services and support for those suffering.

Our readers had some incredible recommendations about what can be done to support mental health in the workplace.

One reader said: “There should be a liaison officer in your workplace that you can speak to that will keep your anonymity and help you.”

“Allow employees to take a mental health day,” was one of the biggest recommendations.

Others said meditation classes, yoga, flexi-time and regular reminders about self-care would also help.

However, the recommendation that stood out the most was to simply treat it like any other illness. You wouldn’t expect an employee with a flu or broken leg to trek into the office so why should those with crippling depression or a panic disorder feel pressured to show up on days when they feel as low as can be?

Support the See Change campaign this week by wearing a green ribbon and showing those who are suffering that they are never alone.

It is time to put an end to mental health stigma.

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