Mental health issues can impact anyone. Developing something like anxiety or depression has nothing to do with your career, your success, or your intelligence. These conditions don’t “seek out” specific people.
Unfortunately, there is still often a stigma surrounding mental health, especially in professional fields. Some people seem to think that doctors, lawyers, and other professionals aren’t susceptible to mental health issues or should somehow be able to “beat” them.
That simply isn’t the case. This stigma can be extremely damaging. It can cause people in those positions to try to “ignore” their symptoms and go without the help they deserve. More importantly, the longer this stigma stays in place, the more people will suffer in silence.
So, what can you do to help break the stigma of mental health in professional fields?
Watch Your Language
Most people recognize that there are certain words and phrases that aren’t exactly appropriate for the workplace. It’s easy to avoid certain four-letter words. But are you also paying attention to the kind of language you use surrounding mental health?
Have you ever suggested someone had “lost their mind?”
Have you ever said something like, “She’s totally nuts today?”
These statements might seem harmless. You likely didn’t mean anything offensive when you said them. But this kind of language can keep people from opening up about their mental health struggles. This kind of language makes mental health issues seem like something negative or abnormal. In a professional setting, if someone feels like their mental health will be questioned and judged, they might also worry about losing their job or credibility.
One of the best and easiest ways to change the culture of mental health in your industry is to watch the language you use.
Foster Open Communication
Another fantastic way to break the stigma of mental health in professional fields is to talk about it. Far too often, mental health struggles stay bottled in because people are scared of how they might be perceived.
The more open your line of work is with mental health, the easier it will be for professionals to come forward. Not only will it help individuals, but it can help to create an industry culture that promotes mental wellness rather than trying to hide it.
Recognize Mental Health as Highly as Physical Health
If an employee in any industry is sick with the flu, no one will bat an eye if they take a day or two off of work. They need to rest, recover, and recuperate.
But, fewer industries recognize the occasional need for a mental health day. As much as we would all like to have no stress, anxiety, or depression, they’re common conditions that affect millions of people. Something like anxiety can completely take control of your life and make it hard to focus on your career or even your relationships. Extreme depression can make it hard to get out of bed in the morning.
If these conditions aren’t recognized as real health issues in professional industries, employees are going to be coming to work “sick.” They’re not going to get the rest and recovery they need, and the vicious cycle of mental unwellness will continue.
Become a Voice
You might think one person can’t do much to break the mental health stigma in a professional field. But, if you’re willing to stand up and advocate for yourself and others, you’re likely to start a chain reaction.
The more people who speak up about mental health in professional fields, the quicker the stigma will fall. Keep these ideas in mind, and don’t be afraid to advocate for change.
Jennifer Perera is a mom of two boys, a spouse and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is also Certified as a Perinatal Mental Health Professional by Postpartum Support International. She has a private practice in Springfield, New Jersey and also sees clients throughout New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Illinois via telehealth. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual and couples counseling. She also runs workshops for new parents, teaching them techniques and strategies to help them have a stronger relationship - built to thrive during the parenthood years. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with grief or loss issues surrounding pregnancy.