The workplace: where mental illness stigma thrives

Mental health Employment Work environment Stigmatization Australia

In the workplace, more so than society in general, mental illness continues to lurk quietly and relatively freely, writes Sam Ryan.


The workplace is a breeding ground for mental illness stigma: where increasing pressure (203) creates and exacerbates stress, and increasing uncertainty encourages a culture of silence.

For many of us work is our second home, so it is concerning that so many Australians, upon entering the workplace, conceal this part of our identity, like so much cheap stationary tucked away as we walk out.

According to the Mental Health Council of Australia, 69 per cent of people are uncomfortable disclosing a mental illness to an employer and 35 per cent ruled out the possibility completely. A study by SANE Australia found that while Australians are just as likely as Europeans to disclose mental illness to those close to us, we are twice as likely not to tell our bosses. Forty per cent of those taking sick leave due to depression hid the fact from their boss, with almost half fearing risks to their employment.

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