Top 3 Tips for how to de-stigmatize mental health in the workplace

April 20, 2015 | Hamilton, ON
Contributed by Natasha Sharma, B.Com '00

Melancholy_2Issues with psychological well-being keep us absent from work more than any other chronic condition in Canada. But it isn’t simply a matter of ensuring resources are available. Shame and embarrassment are the biggest reasons people don’t seek help, even when it is available to them. We need to pursue greater education and understanding about others and ourselves in order to de-stigmatize mental health in the workplace. Here are my top 3 tips to assist you:

1. Get in the know

Everyone goes through “stuff” in life: Breakups, divorce, loss of a loved one, changes in finances, etc. And everyone feels down or worrisome at times. Be sure to understand the difference between mental health and mental illness, and treat each one accordingly. Make sure company policies and procedures are in place to address both, that they are effective, and that staff are educated.

2. Check yourself

Accept responsibility for your reaction to a colleague’s psychological distress! Communication is comprised of spoken words, facial expressions, body language, etc. What are you ‘saying’ when you learn about a co-worker’s struggles? Become aware of and monitor your personal reaction, and set positive examples of supporting someone in the workplace with mental health issues.

3. Ensure positive relationships among managers and co-workers

By far the greatest fear in coming forward with mental health issues in the work place is a fear of being perceived by managers or senior staff as no longer competent. Make sure to foster open, positive relationships among managers and co-workers. The better the rapport between management and staff, the likelier people are to come forward to deal with issues and problems.

Natasha SharmaNatasha Sharma is a psychotherapist, doctoral student, author, speaker, and media spokesperson. In 2011 she founded the clinic LBH Therapy in Bloor West Village in Toronto, a team of Psychologists, Psychotherapists, and Counsellors. As a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur, Natasha is passionate about helping others achieve success, satisfaction, and ultimately happiness in their own lives.

She completed her commerce degree at McMaster University, Masters degree in clinical psychology at The Johns Hopkins University, and is currently completing her Doctor of Psychology degree.

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