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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: Celebrity campaigns help reduce mental health stigma at work


Less stigma is being attached to mental health issues than a year ago following a number of TV and press campaigns and celebrities talking openly about their conditions, research has found.

A survey among 1,000 employers and 1,000 staff conducted by insurance provider Aviva, published to coincide with World Mental Health Day, revealed that just under three out of 10 believe that such prejudice is starting to wan.
But just over a third of those questioned still felt that mental health remained a ‘taboo’ subject that was rarely talked about, while 56% believed that physical illness would always carry less stigma.
Doug Wright, medical director for Aviva UK Health, said that employers had a vital role to play in helping to support people who were suffering from depression, anxiety or other psychiatric conditions.
He also welcomed the fact that the number one health initiative that they would like to implement was providing more support for staff with mental illness (34%).
“As very few employees say they would confide in their employer about a mental health condition, it’s important that managers are able to spot the signs of problems and have the right support in place,” he added. Such support included training and awareness programmes, Wright said.
Among those respondents who felt that the stigma around mental health had decreased, meanwhile, just under half attributed the change to a better understanding of the issues among peers and colleagues.
Some 36% pointed to TV and press campaigns such as Mind’s ‘Time to Change’ as having helped, while 28% believed that celebrities talking openly about their issues had created more awareness. A further 23% pointed to the government’s mental health strategy as having contributed too.
Data from the insurance provider also indicated that the average age at which employees make an income protection claim related to mental illness was 43 and the average duration of the claim was nine years.
In 2001, the most common claims for psychiatric conditions were moderate depression (28%), anxiety (15%) and stress (12%).
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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett

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