On Mental Health at Work, and More

October 16, 2019

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“This is the problem of history — writing out the victim, making the victim disappear, because if there is no victim, there was no crime.” — Winona LaDuke, on the erasure of Native people in U.S. culture.
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THE STORY

In a new study of mental health stigma in the workplace, fewer than half of respondents felt their company prioritized mental health. Sixty percent reported that they have never spoken about their mental health status at work, even though up to 80% of people will manage a mental health condition in their lifetime. Research shows that providing support for mental health improves engagement, recruitment, and retention. It also helps combat societal stigma.

Our Take

Younger generations and LGBTQ+ people are increasingly more open about mental health. Also, almost half of Black and Latinx respondents reported having left a job in part because of mental health, compared to only 32% of white respondents. These numbers highlight how mental health intersects with other social identities, and how important it is for existing diversity and inclusion plans to address it.

How It Affects You

The researchers conclude, “Regardless of how robust a company’s benefits are, it is culture that ultimately reduces stigma and empowers employees to actually use those benefits without fear of retribution.”

Leaders who want to create a more accepting and less stigmatized culture around mental health can “[model] disclosure and vulnerability as strengths.” They can be transparent about the “equal prevalence of mental health conditions from the C-suite to the front lines.” Trainings can help managers “learn how to name, normalize, and navigate mental health at work.” Finally, employee resource groups can provide support and foster open conversation.

THE STORY

According to researchers, most parents rarely talk to their kids about social identity markers like race, class, gender, and religion. The reasons can vary; some parents feel uncomfortable with these topics, while others simply don’t find them important to discuss. Parents of color, though, are more likely to talk to their kids about how other people treat them because of their race and ethnicity. Unfortunately, these conversations often start when kids of color overhear negative racial comments.

On Mental Health at Work

Parents’ silence means that children end up making sense of difference “with little more than stereotypes, television and guesswork to guide them.” According to the researchers, “Conversation is key to building your child's own positive sense of identity — along with a healthy respect for everyone else's.”

OUR TAKE

The article points out that “differences like class, skin color, gender and religion don't have to divide us, but ignoring them won't unite us either.” And as we mention in our courses, the reality is that we do see and react to difference—and children notice.

How It Affects You

Do you discuss social identity with the children in your life? If not, consider the reasons why, and how you can overcome your reluctance. If you feel uncertain about where to begin, a quick Google search may help.

On Mental Health at Work

THE STORY

Ryan Helsley is a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and a citizen of Cherokee Nation. Last week, his team played the Atlanta Braves and Helsley saw first-hand the controversial “tomahawk chop”—a tradition for Braves fans. They “raise their elbows up and chop their arms down while imitating a made-up Native war chant.”

After the game, Helsley decided to speak out against the tradition.

He said it “depicts [Native Americans] in this kind of caveman-type...way, who aren’t intellectual.” Many people are unimpressed with the Braves’ response that they would “continue to evaluate how [they] activate elements of [their] brand.”

OUR TAKE

Let’s break down exactly why the tomahawk chop, caricatured mascots, and other similar traditions are harmful. Rather than representing the reality of Native people living in the U.S. today, these depictions reduce Native tribes to a monolithic, inaccurate stereotype. They also imply that Native people exist only in the past, on par with the mythological Minnesota Vikings or the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Not only are these misrepresentations disrespectful, but they limit the political and cultural influence of Native people in society.

How It Affects You

If you work at a school with a Native American mascot, there is a model for respectfully using authentic Native American imagery in sports. Florida State University’s football team partners with the Seminole Tribe and asks them to approve of proceedings before they take place.

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