Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is joining the statewide campaign to fight the stigma of mental illness in the workplace. Peter L. Slavin, MD, MGH president, and Thomas J. Lynch, Jr., MD, CEO and chairman of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization, signed a pledge to become members of the CEOs Against Stigma team, a campaign created by the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Mass). They join a growing list of business leaders who are vowing to transform the way people think about and act toward mental health conditions, which represent the number one cause of workplace disability.
“I am proud to lead Mass General Hospital – an institution that is always striving to set the standard for compassionate, patient-centered health care,” says Slavin. “With an understanding that no family goes untouched by behavioral and mental illnesses, we’ve established programs that extend throughout the hospital and into our surrounding communities.”
At least one out of every five adults in Massachusetts will experience a mental illness this year. However, mental illness remains mostly a secret at places of work on account of stigma. CEOs Against Stigma – which is funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office – leverages the power of chief executives to open lines of communication about mental health conditions and eliminate the institutional stigma that exists, even in the best of workplaces.
“MGH’s mission is to deliver the very best health care in a safe, compassionate, culturally sensitive, and respectful manner,” says Lynch. “The only way for us to deliver the best care to our patients is if we support one another and ensure everyone at MGH is valued, engaged, and feels connected. As a health care organization, it’s our responsibility to lead the way and end the stigma of mental illness in the workplace, and this campaign is an excellent start. We continue to encourage and support our amazing staff to get the treatment they need, so we can give our patients the care they need.”
By signing the pledge, Slavin and Lynch have made a commitment to their more than 30,000 employees to create a stigma-free environment and invite dialogue about mental health conditions without fear of disclosure. MGH will also make employees aware of the mental health benefits available to them and bring in NAMI’s In Our Own Voice (IOOV) presentation, which has been recognized by a leading national mental health researcher as the most effective anti-stigma program in America. IOOV’s powerful presentations feature two people sharing their personal stories of recovery.
“We remain committed to this collaborative model of care, and to approaching mental illness like any other chronic disease, such as diabetes or heart disease,” says Slavin. “We are committed to ensuring that all of our patients and families, and our staff – whether they are seen in primary care, emergency care or any of our specialty programs – have access to treatment for both their physical and mental health needs. We know that by pushing the boundaries of medicine and educating the next generation of care providers and researchers together, we can make a bigger difference in the lives of patients and families – both locally and around the world.”
CEOs Against Stigma is open to any Massachusetts-based company with at least 50 employees. For more information about CEOs Against Stigma, click here.
About Massachusetts General Hospital
Founded in 1811, Massachusetts General Hospital is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The 999-bed medical center each year admits more than 50,000 inpatients, handles more than 1.5 million visits to its extensive outpatient programs at the main campus and four health centers, and records more than 100,000 emergency visits. The surgical staff perform more than 42,000 operations annually, and the Mass General Vincent Obstetrics Service delivers about 3,900 babies a year. The largest nongovernment employer in the city of Boston, Mass General has approximately 25,000 employees, including more than 4,800 registered nurses. Mass General conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of more than $800 million. Mass General and Brigham and Women's Hospital are founding members of Partners HealthCare, a Boston-based integrated health care delivery system. In 2003, Mass General became the first hospital in Massachusetts to be awarded Magnet designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Mass General has consistently been ranked as one of the top few hospitals nationally on the U.S. News & World Report list of "America's Best Hospitals."
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.