Mental health stigma in the modern world

Taking a sick day has always been an awkward conversation to initiate with your boss, but have our attitudes shifted since the pandemic? Print specialist instantprint recently spoke to 1,000 UK employees to find out if their attitudes to taking sick days have changed. The study revealed that following the pandemic, 15% of those surveyed feel pressured to keep working when ill, while 17% feel they can only request time off for illness if they have Covid or another serious illness.

The most common reasons for calling in sick were physical ailments such as the flu (22%) and cold/cough (18%). Only 11% of reports of sickness were due to poor mental health. This raises questions around mental health and the stigma that’s long been associated with it.

In this article, we explore mental health stigma in today’s modern world.

Is mental health stigma still a problem?

Mind, a registered UK charity that provides mental health support and advice, claims that mental health stigma still exists, and sadly instantprint’s survey suggests this is true.

The research carried out by instantprint found that 30% of the employees surveyed felt no pressure from their employer to work when feeling under the weather. It’s certainly positive that pressure to work when ill has eased since the pandemic, however, with only 11% of sickness absences reported as mental-health related, it seems there’s still a stigma surrounding this area.

What causes mental health stigma?

Lack of knowledge and understanding of mental illnesses is believed to play a key role in mental health stigma, along with unhelpful and harmful generalisations made by the media.

Gen Z is reportedly more aware of mental health and more open to discussing the subject and taking steps to address it, such as utilising counselling and support groups. Unfortunately, many older generations aren’t as openminded, and as managers and directors often fall into this demographic, this could explain why employees suffering from a mental illness don’t get the same empathy as those who have a physical ailment.

What’s being done to combat mental health stigma?

Society has come a long way with its attitude to mental health, but there’s still plenty of work to be done. Awareness of mental health conditions is slowly increasing in UK workplaces, with many companies adding mental health days to their list of employee benefits and offering free mindfulness workshops and meditation sessions during the workday.

Mental health first aiders are also being introduced to many businesses, to provide onsite support to anyone suffering from poor mental health. Individuals who sign up to become a mental health first aider are put through an intense training programme to enable them to spot signs of mental health issues and give them the confidence to assist a person in distress.   

RJ Frometa
Author: RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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