The effectiveness of interventions targeting the stigma of mental illness at the workplace: a systematic review.

Peer-reviewed article
(2016 Jan) BMC Psychiatry, 16 1

Authors

Hanisch SE, Twomey CD, Szeto AC, Birner UW, Nowak D, Sabariego C

Abstract

BACKGROUND

The majority of people experiencing mental-health problems do not seek help, and the stigma of mental illness is considered a major barrier to seeking appropriate treatment. More targeted interventions (e.g. at the workplace) seem to be a promising and necessary supplement to public campaigns, but little is known about their effectiveness. The aim of this systematic review is to provide an overview of the evidence on the effectiveness of interventions targeting the stigma of mental illness at the workplace.

METHODS

Sixteen studies were included after the literature review. The effectiveness of anti-stigma interventions at the workplace was assessed by examining changes in: (1) knowledge of mental disorders and their treatment and recognition of signs/symptoms of mental illness, (2) attitudes towards people with mental-health problems, and (3) supportive behavior.

RESULTS

The results indicate that anti-stigma interventions at the workplace can lead to improved employee knowledge and supportive behavior towards people with mental-health problems. The effects of interventions on employees' attitudes were mixed, but generally positive. The quality of evidence varied across studies.

CONCLUSIONS

This highlights the need for more rigorous, higher-quality evaluations conducted with more diverse samples of the working population. Future research should explore to what extent changes in employees' knowledge, attitudes, and supportive behavior lead to affected individuals seeking help earlier. Such investigations are likely to inform important stakeholders about the potential benefits of current workplace anti-stigma interventions and provide guidance for the development and implementation of effective future interventions.