HCN News & Notes

CHD’s Jim Goodwin Joins Statewide Fight Against Workplace Stigma

SPRINGFIELD — For more than 40 years, Center for Human Development (CHD) President and CEO Jim Goodwin, has been dedicated to the dignity and welfare of people in need. Now, he is tackling the issue of stigma in the workplace associated with mental-health conditions by signing a pledge to become a CEO Against Stigma, joining the workplace initiative created by the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Mass). He joins the growing list of municipal leaders and chief executives across the Commonwealth vowing to establish stigma-free places of work for their employees.

“Recognizing that something isn’t quite right with our emotional wellness doesn’t indicate a weakness, it indicates a strength. It says you know who you are, you realize something isn’t as it should be, and you are strong enough to ask for help. Or it says you care enough about someone to get help for them,” Goodwin said. “Creating an environment that supports an individual’s need to address their mental health is critical for the overall health and well-being of our workforce.”

Mental-health conditions affect one in five adults and, unlike physical illnesses, carry a stigma that prevents people from discussing them at work, said NAMI Western Mass. President Bernice Drumheller. “That stigma can lead to high turnover, low productivity, and increased employer costs. In fact, mental-health conditions represent the leading cause of workplace disability.”

CEOs Against Stigma, which launched more than a year ago, partners with the top leaders of businesses, organizations, and municipalities across the state to change misconceptions about mental illness by encouraging people to open up and speak freely about the conditions that affect them and their immediate families, and seek treatment.

One vital element of the campaign involves bringing NAMI’s In Our Own Voice (IOOV) presentations into the workplace. Recognized as an effective anti-stigma program, IOOV presentations feature two people sharing their personal stories of recovery. The Center for Human Development will also provide helpful information for employees and managers so they are better-informed as well as make employees more aware of the mental-health benefits available to them.

“A large percentage of our mission-driven work focuses on providing vital supports and services to mitigate the impact a diagnosed condition may have on an individual’s ability to work and to become productive members of a community,” Goodwin said. “While we are proud of CHD’s workplace environment, which is accepting and understanding of all, we are looking forward to sustaining this culture through the additional resources NAMI has made available.”

Any Massachusetts company, organization, or municipality with at least 50 employees can join CEOs Against Stigma. For more information, visit ceos.namimass.org. To contact NAMI Western Mass., call (413) 786-9139.

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