After reviewing Goffman’s work on Stigma and having finished reviewing the Global Mental Health Series, I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the Department of Health’s social and health policies related to mental health starting with this one on stigma in the workplace – ‘Action on Stigma’. The author(s) begin by referencing an estimate of £9 billion in costs from not addressing workplace mental health issues. There is then a shocking estimate that 40% of employers would not consider employing a person with mental health problems. The documents sets out 6 principles:- demonstrating promoting mental health, mental health awareness for employees, promoting ‘a culture of respect and dignity for everyone’, ensuring there is no employment discrimination, adapting the environment as necessary and accessibility.
While many of the principles were admirable, it would have been interesting to see how these higher level goals are translated into practice and ultimately culture. The authors then focus on some case studies of organisations that have focused on mental health issues in employment. BT for instance has a ‘mental well-being strategy’ with three strands which is reported to have resulted in many benefits. For instance, the company works with people who are off work with mental illness to help them get back into work. Similarly Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust is referenced for it’s work in employing people who have experienced mental illness as part of a strategy against stigmatisation.
This document sets out principles for overcoming discrimination against people with mental illness in the workplace and places an emphasis on values. There is a corresponding SHIFT website which gives details of the work being undertaken by SHIFT – the organisation set up by the government to overcome discrimination and stigma against those with mental health problems. This is a great idea for an organisation and it will be interesting to follow their work.
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