Campaigners are trying to change workplace culture due to the concerns many employees have over speaking out about mental health issues.
See Me is a national campaign that aims to tackle the stigmas that still exist around mental health, and to end discrimination. Surveys suggest that this is still a serious problem, with one study by YouGov last year finding that around half of respondents believed that people in their workplace would not openly discuss mental health issues due to fear of discrimination from their colleagues. The same survey found that around the same proportion of people believed that those suffering from mental health issues would not be well supported by their management. Perhaps surprisingly given these opinions, one third of those who responded had themselves personally experienced a mental health problem.
The See Me campaign therefore highlights a curious dynamic: although a substantial proportion of people have experience of mental health issues, presumably including those in management positions, there is a pervasive belief that it is unacceptable or unwise to discuss these issues at work.
The See Me in Work programme also explores the financial benefits of improving employee mental health, chiefly through reducing absence and staff turnover. See Me director, Judith Robertson, commented: “You don’t have to be an expert to speak about mental health, just asking someone if they are okay can be a powerful thing. In the workplace, there needs to be enough trust and openness for people with mental health problems to feel confident enough to talk, without the fear that they will be stigmatised and discriminated against. It is against the law to discriminate against someone because of a mental health condition, but if people don't feel they will be supported by management, as the figures show, then people won't be able to speak about important issues."
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