Mental Health Stigma And Discrimination At Work: In An Unequal World
We believed that this offered organisations a significant chance to learn more about how inequality may be recognised and addressed in order to guarantee that everyone can experience and maintain good mental health, regardless of their age, gender, marital status, religion, race, or disability.
Examining the stigma associated with mental health as well as the potential for discrimination when that stigma is not addressed is one of the ways we do this in our managing mental health programme.
What Is Stigma?
In the workplace, stigma related to mental health is still pervasive. It is described as “a mark of dishonour connected with a specific incident, quality, or person” and can happen as a result of ignorance, prejudice, and/or misunderstanding.
Numerous employers lack knowledge of mental health, when it becomes a problem, how to recognise the signs of poor mental health, and what to do about it. The fact that mental disorders are frequently less obvious than physical ailments, that their effects are frequently overestimated, and that the subject is thus overlooked do not help.
In addition, because mental illness is frequently misunderstood, those who struggle with it are sometimes falsely accused as being lazy, greedy, dangerous, or incapable or incompetent.
It is understandable that many people are hesitant to admit that they are experiencing mental health issues at work because this attitude may effect how they are treated at work as well as their career possibilities.
Discrimination: What Is It?
Discrimination is when someone is treated unfairly due to their identity. Individuals are protected against discrimination by a variety of parties under the Equality Act 2010:
- Businesses and organisations which provide goods or services like banks, shops and utility companies.
- Health and care providers like hospitals and care homes.
- Organisations that rent or sell property, like housing associations and estate agents.
- Schools, colleges and other education providers.
- Transport services like buses, trains and taxis.
- Public bodies like government departments and local authorities.
Also, it shields people from discrimination on the part of employers.
Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on a number of protected characteristics (totaling nine, which describe how people are protected from discrimination (whether intentional or not) by law), according to disability and equality law (governed by the Equality Act 2010). In order to guarantee that everyone is given an equal chance at employment, employers must become familiar with these traits. In every instance, these features are shielded from both sporadic and policy-related acts.
Since we all share at least some of these qualities, the act essentially shields everyone from prejudice.
The Nine Protected Characteristics
- Gender Reassignment
- Marriage and Civil Partnership
- Pregnancy and Maternity
- Religion and Belief
When discussing stigma and discrimination during our managing mental health courses, we spend some time analysing any that we may hold. While stigma and discrimination can occur owing to a lack of awareness of mental health, it can also occur due to unconscious prejudices.
Social prejudices regarding particular groups of people that people may create without being consciously aware of them are known as unconscious biases. Everyone has unconscious ideas, many of which are acquired from influential people in our lives such as our parents, siblings, teachers, and bosses or created throughout our formative years.
These biases can occasionally be attributed to our brain’s propensity and need to organise and categorise the outside world. They can also be brought on by certain settings or circumstances. For instance, biases may be more prevalent or frequent when we are working under time constraints or attempting to handle an overwhelming workload.
In any case, stigma is frequently caused by unconscious bias, therefore it might be beneficial to confront any outdated ideas and improve our knowledge.
What Steps Must Companies Take?
Employers are required to offer reasonable accommodations in order to remove or lessen barriers and prevent disadvantages for workers who are deemed to have a handicap.
According to the law, those who have been diagnosed with a mental disability are protected from discrimination in the same way as those who have a physical disability, and once it has been determined that a person has a mental health disability, it is then illegal for them to be significantly disadvantaged or treated unfavourably because of it.
We can better support mental health and lessen mental illness if we can get rid of the stigma associated with it.
What safeguards does your organisation have in place to prevent discrimination or unconscious bias towards those whose mental health is compromised?
Get in contact to explore how to make sure your mental health support programme actually provides protection and value.