Let go of outdated mental health perceptions and invest in workplace well-being

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IN this opinion piece, Tania Diggory — mental health trainer, business neurolinguistic programming practitioner, and founder and director of Calmer, a mental health and well-being training organization — explains what we still get wrong about mental health and how to improve well-being in the workplace.

Today is World Mental Health DayTrusted Source, and this year, it certainly comes at a unique time in our history — particularly considering the mental health stories and studies that have arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Federation of Mental Health has set this year’s theme as “Mental Health in an Unequal World” — a truly poignant and timely discussion to be had.

The stark reality is that we don’t have to look very far to notice inequalities and the mental health impacts that result from them.

From the gender pay gap and racial discrimination to income inequalities within countries and tackling climate change, to name a few, the United Nations (UN) cites that 71% of the world’s population live in countries where inequality has grown.

There’s no doubt that many of the world’s inequality issues will, and do, have an impact on the mental health of those affected.

It is also commendable to see the UN’s Committee for Development policy, Leaving No One Behind, as the rallying call of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Although it may feel overwhelming to fathom how we as individuals can contribute to reducing unequal issues that are close to our hearts, the empowering reality is that when we each do our part, we truly can make a meaningful long-term difference.

While every issue that represents inequality deserves recognition, I’d like to explore a topic of inequality in relation to mental health that I believe doesn’t get enough air time: addressing the outdated perceptions of mental health, the negativity bias associated with it, and, as a result, unequal access to workplace well-being.

The words we say have meaning. The impact of our words can create a perception in another person’s mind that has the potential to form a belief and stay with them for a long time — even their entire lives.

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