CEOs Against Stigma is a campaign designed to reduce the negative impact of mental illness stigma in the workplace. It is funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Attorney General. NAMI Mass is partnering with CEOs across the state to bring the reality of mental illness among employees out of the shadows. Through CEO leadership, supervisors, managers, and all employees will be encouraged to learn about mental illness, and how silence is undermining workplace productivity. The campaign will show how understanding, empathy and treatment can improve the wellbeing of employees and increase productivity at the same time.
In 2014, NAMI Mass conducted a statewide survey of 800 registered voters to gauge mental health attitudes. A vast majority of those who took our poll said mental illness was a serious issue and people with mental illness face significant prejudice. But, when asked if they had a co-worker with mental illness, only 17 percent said yes, even though research shows that mental illness exists in virtually every workplace. And, while most people said they would advise someone with mental illness to tell their friends and family, our poll found only 27 percent would advise someone with mental illness to tell their co-workers about it.
This Massachusetts poll confirms what mental health experts throughout the world have known for decades: In the workplace, people who need help are largely silent, because they fear the consequences of disclosure.
Our research into attitudes about mental illness in the workplace led us to Patrick W. Corrigan, Professor of Psychology at Illinois Institute of Technology and Principal Investigator of the Chicago Consortium for Stigma Research. He reports that nowhere does the stigma of mental illness exact a higher tangible cost than in the workplace, both in human and financial terms.
Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability globally and account for high turnover, low productivity, and increased disability leave.  The workplace can be a place of extreme stigma for individuals affected by mental illness, which can lead to under-treatment of mental health issues. Individuals who avoid treatment due to workplace stigma often experience more severe mental health repercussions later due to their untreated illness.
For example, depression, the primary cause of mental illness disability in the workplace, leads to:
Employees experiencing depression report an average of 6 hours of lost productivity a week.
For every employee experiencing depression seeking treatment, another 2.3 will not.
As the severity of depression goes from mild to severe, the workplace cost increases an estimated 3 times over the original cost.
Most employees who seek help improve their quality of life and continue working productively. But that takes support! The people who need help too often fear the consequences of disclosure. Science has proved mental illness – like heart disease or diabetes – is a treatable health issue. Still, the stigma surrounding mental illness often prevents people from seeking the help they need.
The mission of CEOs Against Stigma is to change attitudes within workplaces in Massachusetts by securing the commitment of business leaders. By signing onto our campaign, CEOs will work with NAMI Mass to increase knowledge and knowhow relating to employee mental health. Companies that take part in the campaign utilize the information and resources of NAMI Mass – including NAMI’s “In Our Own Voice” program, which is widely recognized as one of the most effective anti-stigma programs in America.*
We will partner with these leaders of our community to reduce and eliminate the element of stigma at work and transform the culture for individuals and families alike.
Click the following links to learn more about what it means to be a CEO Against Stigma:
Stay tuned as we continue forward in this campaign to improve the health and well-being of individuals around the Commonwealth through creating more open and welcoming workplace environments for those experiencing mental illnesses.
If you are interested in the CEOs Against Stigma campaign or have any questions, please direct these inquiries to: Karen Gromis by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: (617) 580-8541