Top State Leaders Join Campaign to End Mental Health Stigma in the Workplace

Top State Leaders Join Campaign to End Mental Health Stigma in the Workplace

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Boston, MA – June 23, 2016 – The Massachusetts Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Mass) is pleased and honored to announce that Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary, Marylou Sudders, along with Mental Health Commissioner, Joan Mikula and Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH, are now members of the CEOs Against Stigma team. This team of top state public leaders joins the nearly 90 chief executives and municipal heads across the Commonwealth taking the pledge to eliminate the stigma of mental illness in the workplace.

“I am proud to stand with Commissioners Mikula and Bharel and many other prominent CEO’s in Massachusetts who have pledged to eradicate stigma in the workplace against those with mental health issues,” said the Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Marylou Sudders. “In order for stigma to be eliminated we must create workplaces where people with mental illness can speak openly about their conditions without the fear of being socially ostracized or professionally sidelined in their careers.”

Mental health conditions – including depression and anxiety – affect one in five adults and unlike physical illnesses, they carry a stigma that prevent people from discussing them at work and can lead to high turnover, low productivity and increased employer costs. In fact, mental health conditions represent the leading cause of workplace disability.

“Communication and education are the keys to eliminating stigma,” said Commissioner Mikula. “Mental illness impacts all ages, races, economic levels, families, workplaces, and neighborhoods. We need to promote stigma-free environment. Support and acceptance is so important for individuals living with mental health conditions. Just like any other illness, mental illness is treatable and recovery both possible and real.”

The NAMI Mass CEOs Against Stigma campaign starts at the top, employing the commitment of CEOs and leaders across the Commonwealth to encourage communication about mental health conditions, change misconceptions about them, and foster a stigma-free work environment so employees have the opportunity to speak freely about the conditions that affect them and their immediate families.

“Stigma has no place in our communities, or in our workplaces, said Commissioner Bharel. “Mental health conditions must be treated like we treat other health issues – with respect for the individual and appropriate medical care. Stigmatizing these conditions prevents those in need from getting care they deserve.”

“Even in the best workplaces, mental health conditions are often kept secret because of the fear of disclosure,” says Laurie Martinelli, executive director of NAMI Mass. “As leaders in the field of public health, Secretary Sudders and Commissioners Mikula and Bharel understand that mental health conditions are treatable and recognize the importance of educating employees and eliminating stigma at work.”

In addition to signing the pledge and encouraging open dialogue about mental health conditions, Secretary Sudders, Commissioner Mikula, and Commissioner Bharel will make their combined 22,000 employees aware of the mental health benefits available to them, and they have agreed to host NAMI’s In Our Own Voice (IOOV). These presentations feature two people who live with mental illness openly sharing their personal stories, including discussion of the onset of their disorders, their quest for answers and diagnosis, their treatment, and how they are achieving recovery. A NAMI signature program, IOOV has been recognized by a leading mental health researcher as the most effective anti-stigma program in America.

Any Massachusetts company with at least 50 employees can join. For more information about CEOs Against Stigma, click http://ceos.namimass.org.

Media Contact:
Matt Ellis
Ellis Strategies, Inc.
matt@ellisstrategies.com
617-278-6560

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.

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