Mental health in the workplace: 6 strategies to break the stigma

November 27, 2023

Do you talk about your mental health with your colleagues and superiors? No? Many companies have not yet removed the taboo around the topic of mental health in the workplace. We show strategies on how employers can deal with mental health preconceptions.

Likeminded Editorial Team

Table of Content

Why it’s important to counteract prejudice, discrimination and shame

Do you talk openly about your mental health with your colleagues and managers? No? Then your company is one of the many that have not yet removed the taboo around the topic of mental health in the workplace. In many offices, people just don’t seem to talk about their emotional well-being. Yet it would be so important to counteract prejudice, discrimination, and shame. In addition, renowned consulting firms such as McKinsey recognize great potential for employers and employees in this area.

In the following article, we want to tell you a little more about where the many prejudices against people’s psyche come from and why it is so important to fight against them. We’ll also show you a combination of six promising strategies that have helped many companies create an effective long-term mental health program for their employees.

Two basic terms related to mental health are stigma and stigmatization. We want to clarify these first:

What actually is stigma and what is meant by stigmatization?

Stigma is „a strong feeling of disapproval that most people in a society have about something especially when this is unfair“ – Cambridge Dictionary

Stigma usually involves assigning negative characteristics to a group of people on the basis of certain features – such as age, gender physical impairment, or mental illness. For example, depressed people are falsely said to be lazy, weak-willed, and unable to perform. Because of stigmas such as this, affected individuals face great prejudice and discrimination that can be deeply rooted in one’s personality, in the media, and in society. Mental illness, for example, is still completely misrepresented in many movies.

The consequences are serious: Often, it is precisely these stigmas that prevent people who are at an emotional low point from seeking help. What remains is shame and silence.

Is the fight against mental health stigma really a corporate matter?

The fact is: the stigma surrounding mental health can cause enormous damage to a company in terms of both its intangible and material values (keyword “loss of productivity”). So, the fight is definitely worth it. According to studies, companies with appropriate health offerings can reduce sick leave by up to 50 percent. Employee satisfaction increases and with it employee loyalty. In times like these, offers to promote mental health can become a unique selling point in employer branding, because 63 percent of employees would like better mental support at work.

What can be done in the company against the stigmatization of mental health in the workplace? 

While programs for the physical health of employees and team cohesion are comprehensive in many companies – from athletic competitions to team-building events to memberships in fitness studios – offerings for mental well-being are usually thin on the ground.

To put the topic on a solid footing in the company, management and HR should start at several corners, ideally beginning with the management level:

  1. Organize trainings for managers:
    The goal is to create a healthy work environment “from the top”, so to speak. Train your executives to recognize stress factors and symptoms of burnout or depression in themselves and in their teams.
  2. Combat discrimination in all forms:
    From gender, age, color, sexuality to mental illness, run a zero-tolerance track on discrimination.
  3. Provide trainings for employees:
    Show all employees that you care about the issue and educate them about symptoms, consequences, and solutions. In this way, you empower managers and employees alike to help not only themselves, but also others in the company.
  4. Use your company’s unique language:
    Actively change how mental health is talked about in your workplace. Promote a more open dialogue in the workplace with appropriate education and information campaigns.
  5. Offer mental health programs as an added benefit:
    Professional platforms, apps or mental health days – the possibilities to help your employees overcome the hurdles in finding solutions for their mental health are manifold.

Mental health is more important than ever, especially in times of crisis

Neglecting the mental health of their employees has cost companies billions even before Covid. Sick leave and productivity losses could have been largely avoided if employers had taken care of the mental well-being of their employees earlier. With the worldwide pandemic, as well as the associated lockdowns and home office requirements, as well as the fear of job loss, the topic of mental stress came more to the fore again. Just under half of all Germans report increased problems with falling asleep since the start of the crisis. Fear of job loss, increasing loneliness, more stress in everyday life and worries about the health of friends and acquaintances are on the rise. As a result, this also affects people’s work performance. So, it’s high time to pay more attention to the mental health of all employees.

How Likeminded can make your company a pioneer in mental health

One way for a company to actively care for the mental well-being of employees is to use our Likeminded platform. It not only relieves your colleagues in the HR department, but also your managers. As a company, you have individual solutions for all your employees at hand with our platform.

The successes that innovative companies, such as edding, CHRONEXT or Zenjob have already had with the use of Likeminded speak for themselves:

  • Fewer sick days and higher productivity, especially in times of remote work and perceived uncertainty
  • Higher employee satisfaction thanks to individual support in a protected setting without conflicts of interest
  • Strengthening of the employer brand and promotion of an open corporate culture, which in turn secures the company’s own talent pool, since the contemporary, attractive offers not only retain existing talent, but also bring new talent on board more quickly when needed

The formats we offer companies and employees are all anonymous. Among them:

  • 1-1 conversations via video and audio with qualified psychologists to work on individual personal and professional issues,
  • Group workshops with peers led by experienced experts to work together on career-related issues,
  • „Listen & Learn“ webinars on topics related to mental well-being, including Q&A sessions via live chat.

Experience has shown that you can reach up to 30 percent of your colleagues with Likeminded. By comparison, conventional Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) reach an average of only 2 to 4 percent. So, it pays to try it out.

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