Saving Sally: A tale about stigma in the workplace

July 17, 2019

 

 

Once upon a workplace, there was an employee called Sally who had been working with her employer for 10 years. Sally was a competent, valued and popular member of her team.

 

Then something bad happened… [Cue the da da da dummmmm music].

 

Sally’s Something Bad – Scenario 1

 

Sally had a fall at work and hit her head on the corner of a desk. She fell to the floor - blood streamed from a large gash on her head.

 

Sally’s colleague Jim couldn’t stand the sight of blood, but nevertheless he rushed to Sally’s aid. He tried to stop the bleeding. He called an ambulance. He comforted Sally.

 

Despite his lack of medical training, Jim did what he could to help Sally until the trained professionals arrived.  

 

Sally’s Something Bad – Scenario 2
 

Now let’s imagine that Sally found herself in a different situation.

 

For the past few months Sally had been coming in late and calling in sick alot. She hadn’t been getting along with the team. She’d been making mistakes. She’d been unreliable.

 

There was obviously something wrong. What to do? Help or hesitate?

 

Cue Jim’s potential thought bubbles…

 

“Sally’s obviously got something going on”.

 

“It’s none of my business”.

 

“I’m not trained to deal with that stuff”.

 

“Maybe I should just stay clear of Sally until she works things out”.

 

 

Really Jim?

 

Most of us are not qualified to deal with gushing head wounds, but that wouldn't stop us giving it a red hot go. So why are we so afraid of ‘invisible head wounds’?

 

Too often the “stigma” attached to mental health causes us to make excuses for not getting involved. We need to acknowledge that stigma exists. It affects both our conscious and subconscious behaviours.

 

That needs to change.

 

The Moral of Sally’s Story

 

No-one expects you to be a psychologist, any more than they expect you to be a paramedic.

 

Colleagues with mental illnesses must be given the same care and attention as those with physical injuries.

 

In future articles I will be addressing how to help colleagues like Sally – the words to use… “THE HOW”.

 

If you can’t wait until then to find out more about “THE HOW” contact me on 0411 275 920,  jen@jenniferbicknell.com.au,

 

 

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