Stop Mental Illness Stigma
It's reality for most people living with mental illness, that stigma and discrimination are part of their lives.
Stigma happens when a group in society are not regarded with the same respect as
others. There are numerous definitions but, put simply, stigma is primarily a problem of
behaviours resulting in the unfair and inequitable treatment of people.
Learn more about how you can stop the stigma in your workplace, group, or community below.
What is stigma?
Stigma happens when a group in society are not regarded with the same respect as others. There are numerous definitions but, put simply, stigma is primarily a problem of behaviours resulting in the unfair and inequitable treatment of people. Stigma involves a variety of myths, prejudices, and negative stereotyping of people with mental health issues.
Nearly half (45%) of Australians will experience a mental illness at some stage of their life. Despite this, people living with mental illness will often experience stigma and discrimination from friends, family, employers and the community as a whole.
“Stigma was for me the most agonising part of my disorder. It cost friendships, career opportunities and, most importantly, my self-esteem”
Mental health in the workplace
A mentally healthy workplace benefits all employees from being more engaged and motivated, through to increased productivity. The happier and healthier staff are, the more likely they are to enjoy their work and remain in the jobs.
- 9 in 10 Australian employees believe mentally healthy workplaces are important.
- One in five Australian employees report that they have taken time off work due to feeling mentally unwell in the past 12 months.
- It is estimated that untreated mental health conditions cost Australian workplaces approximately $10.9 billion per year.
For additional information and resources you can head to Heads Up - better mental health in the workplace website, developed by the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance and beyondblue.
Stop Mental Illness Stigma Charter
Murray PHN created the Stop Mental Illness Stigma Charter with Hume and Loddon Mallee Murray Partners in Recovery (PIR) programs, to encourage organisations to adopt the right behaviours and practices and build an environment where employees and customers feel supported and understood.
The Charter contains seven commitments, which when addressed, help to reduce stigma:
We will be informed
We will learn the facts about mental illness to educate ourselves and those around us.
We will listen
We will hear from and support those people who have a mental illness story to share.
We will be mindful of our language
We will choose our words carefully and not reduce people to a label or their diagnosis.
We will be inclusive
We will not exclude people with mental illness but instead learn from their experiences.
We will challenge the stereotypes
We will challenge inappropriate names and descriptions of people with a mental illness.
We will be supportive
We will treat people who have experienced mental illness with both dignity and respect.
We will promote recovery
We will encourage help seeking behaviour and talk positively about regaining wellness.
How to sign and adopt the Charter
Signing the Charter is a step along a journey, but not the end of it. Being a Charter signatory doesn't mean getting it all right but does indicate a willingness to work towards reducing stigma.
Step 1 - Pledge to adopt the Charter by downloading the certificate, printing it in colour, signing and displaying it in a prominent place in your organisation such as the foyer or staff room, then email a copy to email@example.com to be included on our website.
Step 2 - Workshop, plan and implement the Charter within your organisation by using the resources in the next section: the booklet contains suggestions on what can be done to meet each of the commitments. Because every workplace is unique, approaches needs to be tailored to fit each workplace.
Some of the things that Murray PHN has done and is continuing to do, include: reviewing policies and procedures, a health and wellbeing noticeboard, having trained mental health first aiders, an employee assistance program, getting involved and promoting mental health week and R U OK? Day events, providing fruit and healthy food options at events.
Step 3 - Review and assess how your organisation is continuing to meet all of the commitments, ensuring staff and visitors feel supported and not stigmatised.
If you're doing great things to stop stigma, we would like to hear from you, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stop Mental Illness Stigma Charter:
- Brochure - broad overview
- Factsheet - mental illness facts and figures
- Booklet - understanding stigma and its effects
- Guidelines - how to use the Charter in your organisation, including suggestions on how to implement each of the commitments
- Pledge - certificate to sign and display your commitment
- Style guide - information on how to use/display the logo
- Logo - for website and newsletter use (right click on image and save image as).
- Website, email and social media banners available on request.
Additional resources for workplaces:
- Heads Up: Developing a workplace mental health strategy: A how-to guide for health services
- Heads Up: Creating a mentally healthy workplace: A guide for business leaders and managers
If individuals are seeking more information and support: