10 August 2023 posted by Recovery Partners

Background

Mental health stigma is a significant barrier to seeking and receiving mental health treatment, leading to negative health outcomes, social exclusion, and discrimination. It is a prevalent issue in workplaces, with many employees experiencing discrimination, harassment, and exclusion due to their mental health conditions. This stigma not only affects the mental health of employees but also affects workplace productivity and profitability. As a result, it is important to identify effective interventions to reduce mental health-related stigma in the workplace.

What they tested

The research paper “Evidence for the effectiveness of interventions to reduce mental health-related stigma in the workplace: a systematic review” aimed to identify and assess the effectiveness of interventions to reduce mental health-related stigma in the workplace. The study was a systematic review of existing research on interventions to reduce mental health-related stigma in the workplace. The researchers identified 21 studies that met their inclusion criteria and analysed the interventions used in each study to reduce stigma.

How they tested it

The researchers used a systematic review method to identify and analyse studies that assessed interventions to reduce mental health stigma in the workplace. They searched five databases (PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library) for studies published between January 2000 and March 2020. They identified 2,712 potentially relevant studies and screened them for eligibility. They then assessed the quality of the included studies and analysed the interventions used in each study to reduce stigma.

What they found

The study found that interventions to reduce mental health-related stigma in the workplace can be effective. The interventions included education and training programs, contact-based interventions, and policy-level interventions. The education and training programs were the most common type of intervention and involved providing employees with information about mental health conditions and how to support colleagues with mental health conditions. Contact-based interventions involved bringing individuals with mental health conditions and non-affected individuals together to promote understanding and empathy. Policy-level interventions involved implementing policies and procedures to support employees with mental health conditions and reduce stigma.

The study found that education and training programs were the most effective interventions in reducing stigma. Contact-based interventions and policy-level interventions were also effective, but to a lesser extent.

 The study also found that interventions that were longer in duration and involved multiple sessions were more effective than those that were shorter and involved a single session.

What does this mean for individuals?

The findings of this study have important implications for individuals experiencing mental health conditions in the workplace. The research suggests that employees can take an active role in advocating for mental health-related stigma reduction programs in their workplace by engaging with their employer or HR department to raise awareness about the issue and the potential benefits of such programs. This may involve sharing personal experiences of mental health issues or citing evidence from research studies to support the need for such interventions.

Employees can also seek opportunities to participate in these programs, such as attending mental health awareness training sessions or joining support groups. By taking an active role, employees can contribute to creating a more supportive and inclusive workplace culture, reduce the stigma associated with mental health conditions, and improve their own mental health and wellbeing.

Moreover, by advocating and participating in such programs, employees can also help reduce the negative impact of mental health-related stigma on workplace productivity and profitability. The stigma associated with mental health conditions can lead to increased absenteeism, presenteeism (working while unwell), and staff turnover, which can have financial implications for the workplace. By advocating for and participating in mental health-related stigma reduction programs, employees can help to create a more supportive and inclusive workplace environment that benefits both themselves and their employer. 

This can help create a more supportive workplace culture and reduce stigma around mental health conditions.

What does this mean for Australian workplace employers?

The findings of this study have important implications for Australian workplace employers. The study suggests that education and training programs can be an effective way to reduce mental health-related stigma in the workplace. Employers can provide such programs to their employees to promote a more supportive workplace culture and reduce stigma. Employers can also implement policy-level interventions, such as creating an employee assistance program, to support employees with mental health conditions. By doing so, employers can create a more supportive workplace culture, reduce stigma around mental health conditions, and improve workplace productivity and profitability.

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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/