We're All in This Together
Millions of Canadians struggle with mental health challenges every year.
At any given moment, one in five Canadians is struggling with a mental health or addiction challenge. Yet two-thirds do not seek help. Instead, they suffer alone, fearing the stigma that is attached to being diagnosed with a mental illness. This stigma can be external (negative opinions and comments made by others) and internal (internalizing negative messages). On average, it takes anywhere from 6 to 23 years for someone with a mental health or addiction challenge to seek help. So what can we do to reduce stigma so that more people are comfortable coming forward and receiving the help they need?
4 Tips for Coworkers
1. Watch your language. Saying things like, “He was acting like a psycho,” or “I never know what mood she will be in—she must be bipolar,” reinforces stereotypes and makes people less likely to seek help for fear of being labelled. Be respectful of others and choose your words carefully.
2. Speak up. Remind others to be respectful in their conversations regarding mental health, and take the opportunity to educate them.
3. Educate yourself. Learn more about what mental illness is and isn’t, how it affects individuals, the warning signs, and how you can help.
4. Be supportive. If a coworker is suffering, walk alongside them. Help them access the assistance they need and support them in their journey.
4 Tips for Supervisors and Managers
1. Lobby your leadership. For real change to occur, those at the top must demonstrate a commitment to mental health.
2. Educate workers. Reduce fear and stigma by educating those around you about mental illness.
3. Create a healthy environment. Toxic workplaces can lead to mental health challenges. Keep your organization healthy, and ensure policies and tools are in place to help people who are struggling.
4. Ensure help is accessible. Provide an employee and family assistance program (EFAP) for your workers. Ensure they are aware of it and that they can access it easily. Regularly remind them about the program and how it can help them.
4 Tips if You Are Struggling with Your Mental Health
1. Get help. Don’t let stigma—either internal or external—hold you back from doing what you need to do to get healthy.
2. Exercise self-compassion. Learn about mental illness—the signs, symptoms, and what it is and is not. Don’t adopt the mistaken view that it’s a sign of weakness or that all you need is a stiff upper lip.
3. Speak up. Remind others to be respectful in their conversations about mental health, and take the opportunity to educate them.
4. If comfortable, share your story. The more people who share their stories, the more we can fight back against stigma.
Sources: workhealthlife.com, Morneau Sheppell, Life Recovery Program