Will Germanwings disaster increase workplace stigma?

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Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz appears to have suffered from a serious psychological illness and experts are saying we’re now at risk of further demonizing workers with mental health problems – so how can HR stop that from happening?

Louise Bradley, president and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, says Canadian employers have long battled with stigma surrounding mental health. She told HRM that the MHCC’s mission is to eliminate the concept altogether and make it easier for employees to ask for help.

“After over 30 years being in the mental health field, I know that every single one of us has a personal story – whether it’s about ourselves or someone we know – but we’re still very reluctant to talk about mental health issues and illness,” said Bradley.

It falls to HR managers to make sure employees have the support they need to stay safe – both physically and psychologically – in the workplace.  

 “If I had a back problem I’d go to my employer and ask for an ergonomic assessment because there are certain accommodation practices in place,” explains Bradley – but that isn’t always the case when it comes to mental health. Too often, employees don’t know who, or how, to ask for help.

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