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Mental health in the workplace: Reducing the stigma and providing support

Posted by Goodwill Staff on May 13, 2021

During Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s important to remember that every person is valuable and has something to contribute to the workplace.

Did you know? One in five U.S. adults may struggle with a mental health condition in a given year? As people faced increased stress and challenges during the ongoing pandemic this number has likely grown higher. Recognizing the critical need in our community to provide support and resources.

Goodwill’s Individual Placement and Support (IPS) team is sharing their knowledge of how creating a mental health friendly workplace can build a culture of inclusion and reduce the stigma.

Q: What support is available for employees and job seekers struggling with their mental health?

Cheryl Neils

A: Goodwill’s IPS services is an evidence-based program that helps individuals find and retain employment. The program takes a person-centered approach and looks to find a good fit each person we support. Employment is an important tool on the road to recovery for people struggling with their mental health, providing someone purpose and structure.- Cheryl Neils, Manager of Vocational Support Services

Q: Why is it important to create awareness and support for employees who are on their journey to mental health recovery?

Erika Eykmans

A: It is so important to view mental health conditions in the same way we view physical health conditions. If there was understanding and awareness of how mental health conditions affect people and how they can be supported, the workforce would be stronger, healthier and happier.- Erika Eykmans, Goodwill IPS Supervisor

Q: How is Goodwill supporting employees with mental health struggles?

Keith Schroeder

A: Goodwill works with job seekers who wish to improve themselves through employment. The IPS team helps connect those job seekers with employers that will be an ally for their work and recovery.- Keith Schroeder, Goodwill IPS Supervisor

Q: How can employers be supportive of employees facing mental health challenges?

Theresa A. Edwards

A: It is important to talk openly about mental health in the workplace because it helps to promote well-being and reduce the stigma, allowing for greater access to mental health resources. It is critical for employers to understand how mental health impacts their employees.- Theresa Edwards, Goodwill IPS Employment Specialist

Lilli Petsch-Horvath

A: Mental illness is often stigmatized. This stigmatization can be caused and perpetuated by lack of awareness, knowledge, understanding and conversation. Employers can help end this stigmatization and provide safe and inclusive work environments for employees with mental illness by being trauma-informed. Ways to help employees who are on their journey to mental health recovery feel safe and supported include speaking openly and non-judgmentally about mental health, sharing how to access mental health supports and ways to take care of oneself and their mental health at work, and providing flexibility and accommodations.- Lilli Petsch-Horvath, Goodwill IPS Employment Specialist I

Employers interested in learning how to create a mental health friendly workplace and support employees can access Goodwill’s FREE Mental Health Toolkit resources here.

Written by Goodwill Staff

Mission Support Center
Tel: (414) 847-4200

James O. Wright Center forWork & Training
Tel: (414) 353-6400

Metropolitan Chicago -
Tel: (312) 994-1440