October 17, 2019
Mental health stigmas can be damaging to someone’s self-value and reputation. For example, assuming that everyone with Tourette’s syndrome is going to make profane and unpleasant utterances may lead to people avoiding a Tourette’s sufferer. In reality, someone with Tourette’s might suffer from involuntary facial tics like excessive blinking, and they can be entirely pleasant to be around. Similarly, there is often a stigma that people suffering from depression will constantly be displaying a bad mood, and that they might bring down the general feeling of a workplace. This is not true. Many people suffer from depression without showing any outward signs.
These are just a few examples of how the stigma of a specific mental illness differs from the reality of mental illness. If those stigmas are not addressed and debunked in the workplace, then it can easily escalate to discriminatory behavior. Imagine fighting a battle with your mental health, and on top of that, having your coworkers treat you differently because of it. That experience is likely to exacerbate symptoms and conditions.
The key to stopping workplace discrimination based on mental health is education. Make mental health resources readily available, and have upper management discuss treatment options openly. This will help ensure that no one is judged based on their mental health status, and can help save someone from being discriminated against by their colleagues.
Mental health should be taken just as seriously as physical disabilities. A mental health condition may not always be visible, but that does not mean it isn’t any less challenging to deal with.