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Breaking the Silence: Confronting Mental Health Stigma in the Workplace

Updated: Mar 13


In the following narrative, we delve into the life of Alex, whose story mirrors the experiences of countless individuals struggling with mental health issues in a work environment that frequently misunderstands, stigmatizes, and silences their struggles.

In the following narrative, we delve into the life of Alex, whose story mirrors the experiences of countless individuals struggling with mental health issues in a work environment that frequently misunderstands, stigmatizes, and silences their struggles.


Alex is known for always working hard and paying very close attention to everything, which made their colleagues and bosses respect them a lot. But behind their professional image, Alex was struggling with anxiety and depression.


The competitive business world made these problems even worse. There were long work hours, strict deadlines, and a culture where people believed you had to be successful at any cost. This made it difficult for people to talk about their mental health, which was seen as a sign of being weak, not strong enough for the tough business world. Alex saw how talking about these issues was usually met with doubt or was seen as an excuse to not work hard. This made them keep their feelings to themselves, even though they really wanted someone to understand and help them.


As time went on, Alex's mental health got worse. They couldn't sleep, had panic attacks at work, and always felt like something bad was going to happen. They were scared of people thinking they were not good at their job or that they were unstable, which made them feel more alone.


One day, Alex sat at their desk, looking at the blinking cursor on their computer screen, unable to concentrate on their work. They felt the same hopelessness they always felt, and they wanted to talk to someone, to stop being silent. But they were held back by the fear of being judged because of the stigma around mental health.


From this narrative, it becomes evident that the stigma surrounding mental health issues creates a significant barrier for individuals seeking help. When society attaches negative stereotypes and judgments to mental health struggles, it discourages open and honest conversations about these issues. People like Alex may fear being labeled as weak or unstable, which can lead to feelings of shame and isolation. This fear of judgment and rejection often prevents individuals from reaching out for support, even when they desperately need it.


Humanitarian research from Harvard University, as cited by Philstar, has identified key factors that hinder Filipinos from seeking mental health care. The top obstacle, according to local mental health and psychosocial support providers (MHPSS) in the Philippines, is the high cost of treatment and services, affecting 40% of respondents. Additionally, stigma plays a significant role, with 35.9% feeling embarrassed or ashamed, 31.0% fearing they might be seen as "crazy" or weak, and 23.4% worrying about family and others' reactions.


In the pursuit of better mental health, workplaces play an important role. Employers and employees alike should be committed to creating a workplace culture that prioritizes mental well-being. By fostering open and non-judgmental environments, offering mental health resources, and raising awareness, organizations can contribute significantly to the betterment of their employees' mental health. Moreover, by eliminating stigma within the workplace, individuals like Alex can find peace in knowing that they can speak out about their problems without fear of shame or rejection. Such an inclusive and empathetic workplace is not only a testament to a company's social responsibility but also a driving force behind the improved mental health and overall well-being of its employees.


We can only hope that, in Alex’s scenario, a compassionate colleague might notice their distress and offer a listening ear, emotional support, and understanding. Someone who can demonstrate empathy and openness, creating a safe space for them to confide in them and seek mutual support during difficult times. This individual can play a crucial role in dismantling any lingering stigma within the workplace.


It is our collective responsibility to combat mental health stigma, not only in workplaces but in all aspects of life. This shift will enable more individuals to seek help when they need it, fostering resilience, empathy, and strength among us all. So, take a moment to check in with your colleagues; there may be an "Alex" within your team silently struggling, and you might just be the mental health champion they need.



Resources:

Need assistance with your organization's mental health program? Feel free to reach out to us via email at training@pvpi.ph or by giving us a call at 8404 9524. You can also explore our website to discover other webinars, trainings, and services that might align with your interests. Let us help you build a thriving workplace culture!


Read PVP's Study on the State of Employee Well-being and Engagement in the Philippines!

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