New York, NY – Lately, I’ve been noticing more pushback on mental health and wellness-based programs in the workplace. Unfortunately, this kind of resistance is really nothing new. Stigma and stigma-based thinking is both theoretically and systematically part of our society. This is one of the reasons why so many people with emotional disorders fail to reach out for help.

Ben Kimmel.

Fortunately, more companies are finding wellness incentives are beneficial to their employees and as a result, we’re seeing a corporate-wide push across the country to rid the workplace of some of the stigmatization surrounding mental health. 

Efforts show that wellness initiatives and mental health programs improve productivity, efficiency and colleague interaction.  These initiatives build comfort as well as boost emotional intelligence within the workplace. Building wellness initiatives is simply a great way to promote strong and healthy work environments.

“We can no longer ignore the elephant in the room,” said B. Cruz when asked about mental health at work. “Everybody is going through something right now. People need help.”

Last week’s article focused on the growing problem of spousal abuse and domestic violence. It is attention like this that offers awareness and provides solution-based thinking. However, there are other areas where behavioral health programs are proven to be helpful, as well. While I report this openly, I acknowledge that those who oppose these groups suggest there is a downside to these initiatives.

First, let’s talk about the positives. Aside from the most common themes of depression or anxiety, there are other topics that exist underneath the wellness umbrella. For example, discussions about self-care and  personal wellbeing give direction to individuals who struggle with eating disorders. Wellness groups have also proven to be helpful to people who live with bi-polar or borderline personality disorder. These discussions range from understanding psychosis to recognizing the challenges with schizophrenia. Let’s also not forget Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — PTSD. Or as it was referred to in one of my recent Colleague Connection sessions — CTSD. Replacing the “P” [which stands for “Post”] with a “C” [which stands for “Current”] — Current Traumatic Stress Disorder.  

There are also anti-bullying discussions and topics based on effective thinking and effective communication. Of course, there are discussions of substance and alcohol abuse disorders, as well as other compulsion-based dysfunctions. Essentially, a strong wellness initiative should be all-encompassing and judgment free. 

And now for the negative. Drawbacks can come from closed-minded co-workers who lack a necessary level of sensitivity. Perhaps, this reflects a low emotional IQ, or a lack of tolerance. More accurately, behavioral topics often hit too close to home for some and can expose a lot of personal vulnerability.

Another concern is a potential lack of needed confidentiality and the risk of personal exposure. More than a few workers express concerns about anonymity — another reason why stigma in the workplace must be dismantled.  Some feedback also suggests fears surrounding rumors and gossip could possibly limit professional advancement.

In any case, the good must outweigh the bad. It would appear that corporate managers like B. Cruz is right.
We can no longer ignore the elephant in the room. We are living in especially challenging times. Workplace stressors are on the rise. As we enter a more hopeful phase of the Covid era, we suddenly find our world edging perilously close to the brink of World War III! How do we as workers cope with it all? Now is a good time to leave biases and judgments aside. Now is the time for all of us to stick together. Better yet, it’s better to be aware of our emotional health and show unity rather than gossiping, arguing and being driven further apart. Now more than ever before, this is the time to remain Union Strong!

Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Wellbeing and DEI Content Provider, Certified Addiction and Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate. Ben can be reached at



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