Mental Health in the workplace

Mental Health, Stigma and the Workplace

Think back over the last year and ask yourself have you done any of the following relating to your physical health?

  1. You went to visit a doctor because of your physical health?
  2. You missed work because you felt physically sick?
  3. You took any form of medication to prevent you from feeling or because you were feeling physically unwell? (e.g., headache,  joint pain, cough etc.).

Now In the last year did you have you ever?

  1. Visit a doctor/counsellor to talk about your mental health?
  2. Miss time from college or work because you felt mentally unwell?
  3. Take any form of medication to prevent you from feeling or because you were feeling mentally unwell?

People with mental health problems say that the social stigma attached to mental ill health and the discrimination they experience can make their difficulties worse and make it harder to recover. 85% of people agree that “anyone can experience a mental health problem”, but, 62% would not want others knowing if they themselves had a mental health problem. (HSE, 2007)

Mental Illness

Mental illness is common. It affects thousands of people in Ireland, and their friends, families, work colleagues and society in general.

  • One in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives.
  • Around one in ten children experience mental health problems.
  • Depression affects around one in 12 of the whole population.
  • 450 million people world-wide have a mental health problem.

Most people who experience mental health problems recover fully, or are able to live with and manage them, especially if they get help early on.

The Employment Equality Acts, 1998- 2011 protect people from employment discrimination. This includes discrimination in finding a job, keeping a job or doing work experience or vocational training. They also include advertising, equal pay, promotion and dismissal.

The Equal Status Acts, 2001-2011 protect people against discrimination when buying or accessing goods and services. This could include discrimination when accessing healthcare, education, social opportunities or while looking for accommodation.

Creating workplace environments where people can be open and positive about their own and others’ mental health:

  • Promotes overall organisational and individual wellbeing
  • Reduces absenteeism
  • Enhances employee stress management skills
  • Reduces cost associated with absenteeism, employee relations issues, talent retention and acquisition
  • Can assist employers in developing systems to support the 1 in 4 employees who may experience mental health difficulties at a given point

Resources; is a place to learn about mental health, and how to support yourself and the people you love.

You can find support services near you, and learn about the #littlethings that can make a big difference to how we all feel.

Within your own organisation

Contact your organisation’s HR or Occupational Health department to get information on internal supports available such as Employee Assistance Programmes which can provide confidential support on a number of items such as financial, family, health and legal matters.


For immediate support, about whatever’s getting to you, please call Samaritans’ 24-hour helpline: 116 123.

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