Baystate Health Joins Fight Against #1 Cause of Workplace Disability

Baystate Health Joins Fight Against #1 Cause of Workplace Disability

First Western Mass. Organization to Take Part in Statewide Campaign


October 30, 2015

Springfield, MA – Baystate Health, western Massachusetts’s largest private employer and a leading healthcare provider in the Commonwealth, is the latest company to join the campaign, CEOs Against Stigma, created by the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Mass).

Dr. Mark Keroack, President and CEO of Baystate Health, has signed a pledge to help eliminate workplace stigma and create a healthier, more productive work environment for his 12,000 employees, making Baystate Health a leader in the effort to change attitudes about mental illness.

Unlike physical conditions, mental illness is often not discussed in the workplace because of the stigma that surrounds it. Yet mental disorders affect one in five adults and is the leading cause of workplace disability. Workers need to feel like they can open up and discuss how they feel with the support of their primary care physician, their colleagues, and their employers, without fear of any backlash for doing so. Even after talking with the doctor, the treatment of mental illness has almost equal amounts of the stigma attached. Adults have found that going to therapy conflicts with their work schedule. In places where medicinal cannabis is legal to use for anxiety and PTSD (Click here to learn more), workers can be afraid to use it for fear of backlash from employers.

“It’s well established that good mental and behavioral health are major contributors to a person’s and a community’s overall wellness,” said Dr. Keroack. “Our team members play an essential and compassionate role in our community, and it’s our obligation to ensure they have any resources they need to maintain the best possible mental health and wellness.”

The campaign is designed to put an end to stigma in the workplace, employing top-down leadership to change misconceptions about mental illness-including depression and substance use-so people can speak freely about the conditions that that affect them and their immediate families. One critical component of the campaign involves bringing 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.

“Eliminating the stigma of these health challenges is an important first step toward beating them,” said Keroack.

In addition to providing IOOV for its employees, Baystate Health will also examine the organization’s health and welfare benefits to make sure employee assistance programs are welcoming and effective in addressing team members’ mental health issues.

“We believe that CEOs Against Stigma can truly change the workplace environment –creating a healthier, more productive setting for employees,” says NAMI Western Massachusetts President, Bernice Drumheller. “We are excited to have Dr. Keroack and Baystate Health/Baystate Medical Center be the first in Western Massachusetts to take part in this important campaign.”

CEOs Against Stigma launched in Boston last June with the goal of involving 250 executives and half a million employees by next summer. Any Massachusetts company with at least 50 employees can join. For more information about CEOs Against Stigma, click here. To contact NAMI Western Mass, call 413-786-9139.

Media Contact:
Matt Ellis
Ellis Strategies, Inc.

About the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass):
Founded in 1982, NAMI Mass is a nonprofit, grassroots education, support and advocacy organization. It is the state’s voice on mental illness, with 21 local chapters and more than 2,000 members. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for people with mental health challenges and their families by educating the public; fighting stigma, discrimination and stereotypes; and promoting recovery. To that end, the organization offers free, peer-led programs that provide resources, insights, coping skills and genuine support. NAMI Mass has been chosen by the National Alliance on Mental Illness as the Outstanding State Organization for 2015.


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