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Companies create 'stigma-free' atmosphere around mental health

NAMI works to educate employers, managers, co-workers on mental health issues while erasing the stigma
Credit: Melissa Andrews
NAMI educates employees at Toledo-area accounting firm about stigma-free workplaces.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Mental health conditions are costing the economy big time: $200 billion a year in lost profits, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Clark Schaefer Hackett accounting firm invited NAMI to hold a training at it's Toledo-area office on erasing the stigma surrounding mental health.

Managers hope employees will feel comfortable coming to them if they feel a condition is affecting them or a co-worker.

"That they can recognize some of the signs of mental health issues, that affect everyone in their lives at some point," shareholder at Clark Schaefer Hackett Lee Wunschel said.

Companies get $4 return on investment in mental health services for every $1 spent. NAMI leaders say taking stigma out of mental illness increases retention and productivity.

Even though so many people face mental health challenges in the workplace and at home, negative stereotypes still exist. These stereotypes and misconceptions are called stigma. Together, we can all do our part in helping American workplaces thrive by ridding them of stigma.

"If they're their best self and they're mentally well, then they're going to do well for the workplace. It's going to help the bottom line for the company," NAMI executive director, Robin Isenberg said.

NAMI representatives visit workplaces to provide employees with resources, support and guidance. In return, the company is certified a stigma-free company.

"I think there's a stigma that people don't want to ask for help. So, if you can approach someone in an appropriate manner and make them more comfortable, I think it just makes it that much more successful and our workplace that much more successful," accountant at Clark Schaefer Hackett, Tara Bollinger said. 

I had a panic attack last night. I lost my breath. My lips went numb. My teeth clacked. My body shivered. I couldn't stop, and I felt the most overwhelming pit of despair somewhere inside my rib cage. The whole thing lasted about half an hour, and I spent that half hour choking and sobbing, ...

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