4 Misconceptions About Mental Health and Productivity in the Workplace

4 min readJul 3, 2019

In recent years, people have started to open up about mental health, sparking a national conversation and removing much of the stigma that used to come with such an admission. Still, all is not completely out in the open, especially at work — employees report that they fear talking about their mental health at the office.

For example, one study of UK workers found that more than half felt uncomfortable disclosing a mental health-related diagnosis to their boss. British employees aren’t alone — workforces elsewhere keep such information to themselves for fear of judgment.

To rectify this belief, employers and employees have to come together to learn about the misconceptions that come with a mental health issue or illness, and learn how acknowledging such conditions can make the workplace a happier, more productive place. Here are four misconceptions you should know.

1. Mental Health Conditions = Inability to Maintain a Job

For starters, many people confuse poor mental health with a mental illness — this is incorrect. The former deals solely in emotions and feelings. Perhaps you feel anxious, depressed or overwhelmed. You might think you can’t converse with or make connections with colleagues, or you could have trouble solving problems. Mental well-being tends to ebb and flow, which means we can battle with a low period to reach a happier, more stable state.

A mental illness, on the other hand, affects a person in a way they cannot emote, think, feel, behave, etc. As an example, someone can be sick with, say, a cold without having a serious illness. This is how employers should look at mental health versus mental illness — one is more serious than the other.

Still, in spite of the gravity that might come with the diagnosis of a mental illness, many people can lead balanced, healthy lives with the right treatment. Therapy, medication and other methods can all soothe lingering symptoms so sufferers can continue to work without issues. Openness about a struggle shouldn’t change perceptions about anyone who suffers, especially because they can contribute just as effectively as someone with a clean bill of mental health.


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