Is Mental Health Stigma Disappearing in the Workplace?

It’s an interesting question since there has been so much emphasis put on decreasing stigma over the past few years. I do think that it varies by employer, and many employees are still sensitive about it. However, I have seen some evolution at my workplace over the past few years, and since I’ve worked for the same company on and off for over a decade, it works as a good firsthand account.

download
Image from: https://www.pdhealth.mil/news/blog/reducing-self-stigma-mental-health-important-physical-health

More recently I’ve witnessed a few employees admit, to my general manager, that some of their sick days were mental health days. His reaction was genuine, with a “that’s no problem” attitude, understanding that it happens to everyone and is sometimes needed. No negative repercussions. At the same time, no one ever says they’re taking a mental health day when they actually call in sick (myself included). Interesting dichotomy.

download-1
Image from: https://www.hercampus.com/school/utah/why-mental-health-days-need-be-taken-seriously

A few weeks ago we had some regional managers in our store. One was the regional Health & Safety Manager, and the other the regional HR manager. My GM talked to me after their visit. He told me that he was informed that my Mental Health First Aid certification needed to be removed from our Health & Safety board, and could not be put up anywhere in the store. We could only let employees verbally know. He couldn’t give me a reason for this, but we both inferred that it has to do with not being a company paid for and sanctioned certification. They want us to just refer employees to the Life Solutions number. What they seem to be missing is that Mental Health First Aid certified team members will always refer to that service, as well as other ones they know about that are specific to that individuals needs. To be honest, I’ve used Life Solutions before and they are fairly robotic and not overly helpful. I’ll refer staff to them, but also give other options. I also paid for my certification myself… they should be lucky that I have it! Very short-sighted by a company that claims to be one of the best employers in the country. Don’t get me wrong, they do a lot of other things right, they just should also promote positive mental health in the workplace!

img_0565

Sorry that was a bit of a rant! Mental health is so important, as is creating a positive work environment. The system seems to be changing for the better, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.