Springfield CEO Takes on Statewide Fight Against Workplace Stigma

June 15, 2016

Jim-Goodwin---CHD-President-&-CEOSpringfield, MA – For more than 40 years, Center for Human Development President and CEO, Jim Goodwin, has been dedicated to the “dignity and welfare of people in need.”  Now, Goodwin is tackling the issue of stigma in the workplace associated with mental health conditions. Goodwin has signed a pledge to become a CEO Against Stigma, 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,” says Goodwin.  “Creating an environment that supports an individual’s need to address their mental health is critical for the overall health and wellbeing 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.  That stigma can lead to high turnover, low productivity and increased employer costs,” says NAMI Western Massachusetts President, Bernice Drumheller.  “In fact, mental health conditions represent the leading cause of workplace disability.”

CEOs Against Stigma, which launched over 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 by a leading national mental health researcher as the most effective anti-stigma program in America, IOOV presentations feature two people sharing their personal stories of recovery. 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,” adds Goodwin.  “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. For more information about CEOs Against Stigma, log onto the website: http://ceos.namimass.org.  To contact NAMI Western Mass, call 413-786-9139.

About the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass)

Founded in 1982, NAMI Mass is a nonprofit, grassroots education, support and advocacy organization. It is the state’s voice on mental illness, with 21 local chapters and more than 2,000 members. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for people with mental health challenges and their families by educating the public; fighting stigma, discrimination and stereotypes; and promoting recovery. To that end, the organization offers free, peer-led programs that provide resources, insights, coping skills and genuine support.

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