NAMI Mass Launches Statewide Campaign to End Mental Illness Stigma in the Workplace

NAMI Mass Launches Statewide Campaign to End Mental Illness Stigma in the Workplace

CEOs Against Stigma Seeking to Reduce No. 1 Cause of Workplace Disability


Boston, MA—Mental illness affects one in five adults and is the leading cause of workplace disability. Unlike physical illness, mental illness carries a stigma that prevents many people from discussing their condition at work—leading to high turnover, low productivity and increased employer costs. NAMI Massachusetts, the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is launching a statewide campaign called CEOs Against Stigma to end workplace stigma and create healthier, more productive workplaces.

On June 26 at 11:00 a.m., NAMI Mass will hold a press conference to officially launch the campaign and announce the first 25 CEOs to participate. The press conference will be held in the Human Resources Training Room at the Logan Office Center (LOC), One Harborside Drive, East Boston. Massport CEO Thomas Glynn, who is one of the first 25, is hosting the press conference.

Funded through a grant from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, CEOs Against Stigma recognizes that ending stigma requires top-down leadership to change misconceptions about mental illness—including depression and substance use—so employees have the opportunity to speak freely about the conditions that affect them and their immediate families, and seek support.

The campaign is open to all Massachusetts companies with at least 50 employees. CEOs are asked to sign a pledge that “encourages communication and understanding to foster a stigma-free workplace.” It also includes a commitment to bring NAMI’s In Our Own Voice (IOOV) presentations into the workplace. Recognized by a leading national mental health researcher as the most effective anti-stigma program in America, IOOV presentations feature two people sharing their personal stories of recovery.

NAMI Mass chose to focus this anti-stigma campaign on the workplace, in part, based on results from a 2014 statewide survey of 800 Massachusetts voters, which NAMI commissioned to gauge attitudes on mental illness. The results show that while 92 percent of people would advise people with mental illness to tell their families about it, and 76 percent would advise telling their friends, only 27 percent would advise telling their co-workers. (To read the full survey, click here.)

“Every day, we see how stigma interferes with a person’s willingness to get treatment,” said NAMI Mass Executive Director Laurie Martinelli. “The research shows that in the workplace stigma not only discourages people from getting help, it also has a huge impact on productivity.”

Three CEOs are among the speakers to be featured at the press conference:
• Thomas P. Glynn – Massport CEO
• Timothy Murphy – Beacon Health Options CEO
• Joyce A. Murphy – Executive Vice Chancellor of UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division.
In addition:
Evan Rockefeller, an occupational therapist and IOOV presenter, will share his personal story of work-related stigma. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder sixteen years ago, Rockefeller discusses the challenges he faced in the workplace.

NAMI Mass will also release its position paper, “Bad for Business: The Business Case for Overcoming Mental Illness Stigma in the Workplace.”

View the campaign website at   View the video of the press conference.

Media contact:
Matt Ellis
Ellis Strategies, Inc. | 617-278-6560



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