As someone who has had my share of mental health issues, I know that I have stories to tell. I use various online platforms to share those stories, but I must also acknowledge something. I’m not always so comfortable sharing my story with friends and coworkers.
With friends, I often struggle with not wanting to bring them down. I want my friends to be happy, have a good time, and feel comfortable spending time with me. Talking about my past child abuse or current issues with anxiety, etc., doesn’t fit. On the other hand, I know that when I do share my anxiety with some of them, it’s something that ultimately brings us closer together.
At work, there’s a much larger issue. Is it safe? The article below gets into some of the issues and how to address them:
As Dr. Croft explains, safety goes both ways. Are the employees sharing their stories safe to do so, and are they sharing them so that everyone else can hear them safely?
Having run a few groups for abuse survivors, I can tell you that this isn’t easy. I can also tell you that as much as I share my stories online, I would 100% hesitate to do the same at work. That’s because it’s quite complicated to share that story with people you will also have to work with daily. Put simply, to be a safe place to share your story; you would have to know that there would be no stigma attached to the story and you as a coworker going forward. There would be no significant change in your professional relationships. No one is going to look at you when it comes to a promotion or career development and think about your mental health status.
Can you say that would happen in your workplace? I couldn’t have said that about any places I’ve worked. To be sure, some coworkers knew some of my story. Would I have offered to share my story with the organization to draw more attention to the available mental health resources? I don’t know. I would have to spend some time and evaluate that. It would not be an easy decision. I wouldn’t recommend anyone else do it without some soul-searching.
Bosses, ask yourself the question. Is this a safe place for people to talk about their mental health? If it’s not, what can you do to change that? The article above has some advice for you. Maybe it all comes down to the kind of people who work for you and the behavior that you tolerate. If someone is honest about their mental health struggles and then you allow them to be stigmatized by others, it’s not a safe place.
And if it’s not a safe place, your wellbeing program doesn’t matter.
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