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  • Andy Salkeld

Breaking the Stigma (again)...

Almost three years ago I started on a journey I never thought would be possible and it all started with a simple LinkedIn post about not wanting to hide my true self anymore. I spoke honestly about my experiences living will mental illness and try to describe the fear associated with admitting this to my professional network.

I spoke about breaking the stigma.

Since then, a lot has changed. Not only have I progressed personally; working on myself, my mental health and my own wellbeing, but I have also started progressing my experience with mental ill health professionally.

I have always been sensitive to my experience with mental ill health, caveating everything I have done with “I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychoanalyst, psychotherapist or whatever word you want use”. I have lived experience. This is a strength in its own right, but I always have to be mindful of the people who may listen to what I say.

“But what if I was?”

Those are the words I said to myself one day almost a year ago in the midst of the beginnings of the Covid-19 pandemic. My world, like many others’, was collapsing around me.

“What if I was?”

I now sit part way through a Masters Conversion degree in Psychology at Leeds Beckett University that will allow me to option to become a Chartered Psychologist. I may well end up being both a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Psychologist. I don’t know exactly what that means yet, but it’s something I’m excited to explore!

I do this not for myself, but to be able to give more back to those that might be struggling with their mental health.

So why am I telling you this story?

I’ve just been approved to conduct some scientific research alongside Dr Chanki Moon. It’s a project I designed myself. It’s a project I’ve poured my heart and soul into. It’s a project that you can help with!

My research is, as expected from the title of this piece, relates to understanding stigma towards mental ill health within the workplace (specifically within professional services).

Stigma associated with mental illness is a major barrier to seeking treatment amongst people with mental ill health. People who experience mental illness related problems do not often engage with them in the workplace by trying to disguise or hide their symptoms driven by fear of discrimination and shame. Sometimes this stigma is real, through employee contracts e.g. "terminated if being of unsound mind" and sometimes it is perceived and/or expected. Many people who could benefit from the improving effectiveness and quality of mental illness treatments either opt out or not take part due to the stigma associated with mental illness.

Professional services as an industry is widely considered to be one of the most stressful (and stress inducing) and demanding work environments and stress has been shown to have a prognostic effect towards mental illness. As such employees within professional services could be vulnerable and any stigma present towards mental illness could prevent them from seeking appropriate help.

This study is designed to consider perceived stigma within the workplace. This is where people believe stigma may be present regardless of whether it is or isn’t present.

Addressing stigma within an organisation is complicated and can cost a considerable amount of time and resources. Through understanding the nature of any stigma if present, organisations will be able to better utilise their resources to support any employees that may be struggling with mental ill health.

It is my hope that through this research we will be able to understand more about mental ill health stigma and be able to help people and businesses alike to support individuals better. My aim is for this research to be published and the results to be shared openly so that any findings can be used to support people and to build more mentally healthy cultures within our organisations.

It’s really easy to take part. Click on this link and just follow the instructions on screen. It’s complete anonymous and confidential and will take you around 15 minutes to complete. Full details are provided on the landing page.

I am more than happy to discuss this with you or your organisation and will answer any questions you may have. I will be contacting some of your individually who may be interested in this and am more than happy for you to help distribute the research link to others within your organisation.

If you’ve reached this far, thank you for reading all of this. I do really appreciate you taking your time and would be some grateful if you feel you can take part in my research.

I will keep updating you on the progress of this research project and am excited to share the results when the time is right.

Thank you

Andy Salkeld

just another guy

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