Employees are worried about their mental health as they return to the workplace after the COVID-19 pandemic. Stigma can exacerbate their concerns, but employers can thwart its impact.
In behavioral health, “stigma” is defined as a level of shame, prejudice, or discrimination toward people with mental-health or substance-use conditions. Because of stigma, such conditions are often viewed and treated differently from other chronic conditions, despite being largely rooted in genetics and biology.3 Stigma affects everything from interpersonal interactions to social norms to organizational structures, including access to treatment and reimbursement for costs.
The National Academy of Medicine defines three primary forms of stigma, each of which can have far-reaching and harmful effects:
Self-stigma occurs when individuals internalize and accept negative stereotypes. It turns a “whole” person into someone who feels “broken.” As one employee told us, “Depression can be a terrible illness. It makes you feel worthless and without a purpose.”
Public stigma (which is sometimes referred to as social stigma) is the negative attitude of society toward a particular group of people. In the case of behavioral-health conditions, it creates an environment in which those with such conditions are discredited, feared, and isolated. As an employee explained, “There is such a stigma against mental-health disorders. But if you don’t talk about it, you suffer alone.”
Structural stigma (including workplace stigma) refers to system-level discrimination—such as cultural norms, institutional practices, and healthcare policies not at parity with other health conditions—that constrains resources and opportunities and therefore impairs well-being. “The number-one challenge I face is finding [healthcare] providers,” one employee told us. “It’s a problem for me, for my wife, and for my kids.”
Read the full article written by McKinsey Erica Coe, Jenny Cordina, Kana Enomoto, and Nikhil Seshan via this link.