Speak out. Open the conversation. Raise awareness. End the stigma.
As a mental health advocate, these are phrases I’m passionate about promoting.
The stigma surrounding mental illness remains strong. But it’s beginning to lessen, as more people talk about their challenges with a mental health condition.
Today, October 10, 2017, is the 25th anniversary of World Mental Health Day. The World Federation for Mental Health founded the day in 1992.
The theme for this year is Mental Health in the Workplace.
When I heard what this year’s theme is, I immediately thought of the interaction between an employee and her employer that went viral earlier this year:
Hey team, I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.
The response from Ben Congleton, CEO Olark:
Hey Madalyn, I just wanted to personally thank you for sending emails like this. Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health — I can’t believe this is not standard practice at all organizations. You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can all bring our whole selves to work.
Mr. Congleton also said, “It is incredibly hard to be honest about mental health in the typical workplace. It is so easy to tell your teammates you are ‘not feeling well.’ Even in the safest environment it is still uncommon to be direct with your coworkers about mental health issues.”
He’s right. It’s really hard to be open and honest when struggling with a mental health condition. But I believe it’s starting to get a little easier.
My daughter Mackenzie is 25 years old. She’s had issues with anxiety this past year. And she hasn’t felt alone. She told me, “Mom, you wouldn’t believe how many of my friends and people at work talk about having anxiety and depression. They take medication and go to therapy. It isn’t taboo to talk about it anymore.”
The World Federation for Mental Health makes these suggestions to improve the conversation about mental health at work:
Commit your team to do your best at being proactive in promoting:
- Appreciation of employees and workers
- Creating a supportive environment
- Identification of early signs of burnout
- Creating an organizational culture which reflects value systems and beliefs
- Stress management
- Building awareness and reducing stigma
- Mental health wellness and providing support for employees who need it
Use #WorldMentalHealthDay to spread awareness.
The conversation about mental health is open. Let’s keep talking about it!
First image courtesy of here