7 Dark Sides of Work

Mental health stigma

A safe workplace is one that is physically AND psychologically safe. We have made great progress to make sure people are physically safe at work. We’re not there yet when it comes to psychological health and wellbeing. 

Stigma exists mostly because some people don’t understand mental health, and because some people have negative attitudes or beliefs towards it. People often dismiss what they don’t understand. 

How many times have you heard ‘suck it up’, ‘get over it’, ‘have a cup of concrete’ or ‘other people have it much worse’. These are judgements and assumptions that come from the onlooker’s biased perception of the issue and what their response would be – and it only causes more harm.

Mental health problems aren’t ‘crazy’ or ‘out there’ things that other people experience. Mental health injuries and illness include things we have ALL experienced in the last 12 months – read more about how I #ChooseToChallenge mental health stigma in my article.

Communicating to Support Mental Health

Do you know how to communicate to support mental health in the workplace? It’s not as easy as we think. I hear comments all the time that cause harm and only help to keep the stigma around.

In November 2020, the Productivity Commission released The State of Mental Health Report in Australia. Mental illness is the second largest contributor to years lived in ill-health, and the most common mental illnesses are anxiety and depressive disorders.

I’ve been in the work health and safety industry for over a decade, and I’ve seen the damage poor communication and psychosocial hazards can have on individuals, teams and organisations. I’ve also seen change from physical injuries to psychological injuries during that time. 

I have found that when people don’t know what to do, they avoid the issue or put their foot in their mouth. I specialise in helping people to communicate the hard stuff and sharing content like this so we can collectively do better. 

So what should you do?

Communicate with compassion and respect always. You never know what someone is going through or has gone through. 

Ask how are you? Are you ok? You could say that you’ve noticed a change and you’re worried – then just listen, give them space and be comfortable with the silence. Let them talk, and if they don’t want to talk, let them know that you’re there or what other support might available such as:

You could include mental health as an agenda item in meetings, do activities that support mental health in the workplace, talk about your own experience and share your favourite mindfulness or self care activities. 

For many of us, we’re not professional mental health providers, so don’t try and fix a perceived problem. Simply being there for the person, listening and providing tools and resources can help. 

Check out this video for tips on how to communicate to support Mental Health at Work

Resources

Check out the following resources for more information on how to reduce the stigma and support mental health at work.