Changing the Culture of Fear Through #powerofokay: See Me Campaign

Changing the Culture of Fear Through #powerofokay: See Me Campaign

The workplace can be one of the most daunting arenas to speak openly if you’re struggling with your mental health. People worry that if they tell their colleagues or their manager that they are struggling they will be stigmatised or discriminated against. If you have, or suspect you have, a mental illness talking honestly and openly about it can seem impossible. So what we need to do is change the culture of fear and silence around mental health. We want to get to a place where workers can speak openly if they need help with their mental health, without worrying about the consequences. We think our new Power of Okay campaign will help us to start seeing these changes.

Before we launched the campaign See Me carried out a survey of Scottish workers, which found that 45 per cent think people in their organisation wouldn’t speak about their mental health for fear of discrimination from their colleagues. In the same survey 48 per cent said people don’t tell their employers about mental health problems for fear of losing their job and 55 per cent thought that people would be unlikely to disclose a mental illness as it could result in being passed over for promotion or moved to another post.

Unfortunately these fears are not unfounded and while speaking out about mental health does help some people, others find it has a detrimental effect on their career and changes the way their colleagues act towards them. But there are lots of reasons why speaking about your mental health is fundamental to getting better.Firstly, the more you hide it and the more you bury it deep inside you, the more you can start to believe that it’s just you. We can promise you that it isn’t just you.Secondly, the more you hide it, the more serious the problem can become. This can lead to more serious physical and mental health conditions later on. So the earlier you seek help the better.

Having the courage to speak out can help you feel better in yourself, and more accepted by others. But never feel under pressure to do so if you don’t want to. We believe that we all need to be comfortable asking each other, ‘are you okay’ and opening up conversations about how we really feel.

However we are not there right now. If someone says they are not okay, people are worried they won’t know how to help, or could even make things worse.So with the Power of Okay campaign we want to show some of the right things to say when someone opens up to you. Simple steps like reassuring someone that you are there for them, that you care and that they can speak to you in confidence can make a huge difference.

We would love for everyone to get involved in the conversation, by using #powerofokay on social media and sharing these two videos:

We want to see people all over the world having discussions on mental health and supporting each other. Are you worried about someone? Ask them if they are okay today.

Nick Jedrzejewski is the media and communications officer for See Me, Scotland’s programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination. Nick, and the programme, want to enable everyone to be able to live a fulfilled life and ensure that the human rights of those who are experiencing, or have experienced a mental health problem are protected. You can follow him on Twitter @seemeNick.



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3 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Julie Ann Frazier · Edit

    The Power of Okay is a thoughtful step in the right direction towards understanding mental health. It isn’t just about mental illness dealing with the fear of judgement and for those who learn of another’s struggle with mental illnesses (especially certain diagnoses) wonder what the person is capable of and a host of other false conceptions based in fear. To most it’s only certain people that suffer from mental illness. So not true We all have minds and the content of our thoughts can lead to mental illness in anyone! If we view our mind as a garden our thoughts are either healthy fruitful seeds or strangling weeds that steal energy from the good we want in life. If allowed to take root in any mind long enough these weeds steal hope, joy and confidence. While fear, anger and resentment flourish.

    It will take time to overcome the stigmas and fears that are felt so strongly by both the person sharing their struggle and the listener entrusted with the knowledge.

    Here in the USA we have HIPPA which protects health information from being shared without written permission. Most decline to share their personal information with anyone outside of close family & Doctors treating them for fear of the reasons listed above such as losing their job looked over for promotion b/c of stigma & backlash would worsen their anxiety & embarrassment over condition.

    Wanted to note that healthy food and exercise can help?

  2. This is a very powerful campaign to raise the awareness on stigma of those who are afflicted with mental health issues. Thank you for blogging about this and keep it up!


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