Joyce A. Murphy, MPA, executive vice chancellor of UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, joined NAMI Massachusetts Medical Director Ken Duckworth, MD, on WBZ Nightside with Dan Rea July 29 to discuss the stigma of mental illness in the workplace and how it can be eliminated.
CEOs Against Stigma, a campaign of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Massachusetts chapter, was the focus of an hour-long discussion on the evening talk show. Murphy was one of the first CEOs in Massachusetts to sign the NAMI pledge.
“I'd like every company to be open about learning about mental illness,” said Murphy, who told Dan Rea that one in five people will be impacted by mental illness.
The campaign, open to all Massachusetts companies with at least 50 employees, asks CEOs to sign a pledge encouraging communication and understanding to foster a stigma-free workplace. Employees should be encouraged to speak openly about mental health conditions that may be affecting them or their families, and to ask for assistance.
Duckworth said many people with mental illness don’t seek help and fear of backlash in the workplace is one of the reasons. “They think, ‘If I ask for time off for appointments it might be held against me,’ ” he said.
Employees with depression report an average of 5.6 hours of lost time per week and research shows that more than 40 percent of employees with major depressive disorder do not seek adequate, timely help.
As part of the pledge, CEOs agree to host a NAMI “In Our Own Voice” (IOOV) presentation, which features individuals telling their personal stories of recovery. Two of those presenters called into the show to share their experiences and the positive impact it has had on program participants.
“It was amazing to me the number of people who came up to me and told me how much they learned from the presenters with mental illness,” Murphy said of the feedback she received after hosting an IOOV presentation at Commonwealth Medicine. Some employees self-disclosed their mental illness in conversations with Murphy and on program evaluation forms.
More information about NAMI Massachusetts and the campaign is available on the CEOs Against Stigma web site.
“I hope some CEOs will contact NAMI about CEOs Against Stigma,” Rea said.
Listen to the hour-long discussion.