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Addressing Mental Health In The Workplace


It is sad that in 2018, there is still a stigma about mental health. Countless people experience shame around discussing an issue like depression or anxiety when, in fact, they impact millions of Americans each year. Jobs, in particular, can be a touchy place when it comes to bringing up these conditions. Many fear they will be judged or even fired if they let on about about their emotional state. The truth of the matter is, these are natural human conditions that deserve to be addressed and respected by workplace superiors.


Recently, the website Refinery 29 brought this important topic up to its readers. Using real life examples of workers suffering from mental health conditions, it illustrated a major lack of understanding from the vantage point of corporate America.


Lindsay Johnson (who was interviewed for the piece) shared the challenges she faced as a sufferer of panic attacks and anxiety. At her unnamed tech company, she said she struggled to discuss remote time with her supervisors; a recommendation that came directly from her doctor. To many, her inability to focus and need to leave the premises appeared to be a “workplace cop out;” when it fact they were symptoms of a very real condition.


“My panic attacks can come out of nowhere,” Johnson explained on the site. “My confidence has definitely taken a hit as I can imagine others thinking I am ‘slacking off’ when I have to deal with my panic. I have missed work and worked from home more than others when things have gotten worse, which isn’t great for optics.”


The article goes on to point out that as much as 70 percent of corporate workplaces do not have mental health policies or were at least unaware of any. Jaime Klein, a senior corporate HR rep, also spoke to Refinery and corroborated the fact that many human resources employees are not properly trained in dealing with mental illness. Often times, these conditions can be confused for laziness or excuses, which can create even more anxiety for the employee who is suffering.


However, Klein did say that many people in her field are beginning to shift their attitudes. With that in mind, the hope is that future workplaces will become more accommodating to these types of conditions.


“People who suffer from mental illnesses are perfectly capable, they just need the support to thrive,” she concluded. “Mental health should be prioritized in the same ways that any other illness is. It should be okay to say, ‘Sorry, I have really bad anxiety today, can I work from home?’”


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