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NAMI Southwest Ohio helps businesses reduce mental health stigma in the workplace

It’s not news to employers that mental health conditions negatively affect their workforce. Many employers know that one in five adults will experience a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year; employers may not be aware of their employees who are affected by a coworker or loved one’s mental illness. In both circumstances, workplace productivity is reduced. Absenteeism, presenteeism, and disability combine to drive costs and decrease performance.

In many cases, employees are reluctant to seek treatment for fear of jeopardizing their jobs, so their illness goes untreated. Untreated mental health conditions often result in absences from work as well as presenteeim — employees being on the job, but, because of illness, not fully productive. Although absenteeism has long been studied, research on the effects of presenteeism is more recent.

A growing body of research indicates that presenteeism can cut individual productivity by one-third or more. Add to that group those employees who are informal caregivers for a loved one living with mental illness. These individuals may have to leave work unexpectedly to deal with a mental health crisis of their loved one or be absent from work because of chronic symptoms that impair their loved one’s daily functioning.

The good news is that treatment works, and recovery is possible. When employees receive the care they need, the outcome is increased productivity, lower medical costs, decreased disability costs, and lower absenteeism.

So why aren’t we talking about mental illness? Why aren’t companies addressing this need? What is keeping mental illness in the shadows?

Stigma. It’s not the only reason, but the negative stereotypes, the prejudice, the blaming, the ignorance, and the resulting silence keep employees from seeking treatment. Stigma silences the caregiver who fears there will be no understanding from coworkers and supervisors.

To help companies understand how eliminating mental health stigma promotes positive, productive workplaces, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Southwest Ohio offers “Good for Business.”

“Good for Business” is a 50-minute presentation given by people who have been personally affected by mental illness in the workplace. The presenters, who are working successfully in area businesses, give helpful information about the prevalence of mental illness, why a coworker may be reluctant to disclose a mental health condition at work, treatment options and other resources for support that exist for workers affected by a mental health condition.

Offered at no cost to businesses and organizations, “Good for Business” is a good first step to eliminating mental health stigma and promoting positive, productive workplaces.  “Good for Business” is a good first step to bring mental illness out of the shadows.

Learn more about how your business can take advantage of NAMI Southwest Ohio’s “Good for Business” presentation.

NAMI Southwest Ohio (SWOH) is an affiliate of NAMI, (National Alliance on Mental Illness), the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI SWOH’s services include support, education, and community presentations to increase understanding and reduce stigma.

Heather Smith Turner is in her 10th year as the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Southwest Ohio. During her tenure, she has overseen the growth of programs and services and has led the organization through a merger to become a regional organization serving Southwest Ohio.

Jan 15, 2019
By Heather Smith Turner – Executive Director, NAMI Southwest Ohio

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