Coping with Stigma in the Workplace

in various work fields and higher occupational representations. There are also serious concerns about the day-to-day challenges faced by individuals in the LGBT society, people as they age, and those with disabilities.

The underrepresentation of these groups is an even greater problem since it limits them from getting social justice.

What is Stigma?

First, let us understand what is stigma to identify the various ways you can cope with it in the workplace.

Stigma is defined as a mark of disgrace as it sets an individual apart from others. Stigma can occur due to a misunderstanding or prejudice. It is even worse for people with mental illness as it can result in a lack of support from friends and family members, leaving them feeling marginalized and misunderstood.

Unfortunately, stigma is prevalent in every phase of society, including the workplace. The affected individuals may fear revealing their experiences for fear of being rejected or perceived differently by others.

Acceptance of the situation and knowledge-seeking are powerful tools for reducing stigma, although it can be hard to know where to start. Whether you are affected by stigma or not, here are a few ways to cope with stigma in the workplace.

Know the Facts

Most of the stigma in the workplace occurs due to a lack of knowledge. Most people do not understand the effects of stigma on the mental health of individuals. You don’t have to give your life story to everyone in the workplace to be accepted. However, you can gather facts so that you are better equipped to identify and respond to stigma.

Find as much information about stigma, especially the myths, and share them with colleagues in the workplace.

Find Solace in Identity

When you understand what stigma is, you’ll understand why members of a certain group may try to hide, conceal or minimize their threatened identity while emphasizing their out-group characteristics. Members of a stigmatized group may also go the opposite direction and find solace in strong group identities that they share with others.

The members of a stigmatized group may also respond by resisting prejudices, stereotypes, and discrimination. However, this is only possible for individuals with strong group identities that help to bring solace. A strong group identity often helps reduce stigma by enabling individuals to view themselves positively while protecting performance and motivation.

As a member of a stereotypical group, a strong group identity can help you gain extra motivation from the stereotypes. This works as you are pushed to try extra hard to show that the stereotypes are wrong.

You can resist stereotypes’ negative effects in the workplace by turning the challenge into an opportunity to perform better. Ultimately, stigmatized groups do not start with resistance but instead try working within the system and then turn to their stigmatized peers when every other strategy is not effective.

Challenge Misconceptions

Another factor contributing to stigma in the workplace is the presence of misconceptions emphasized through myths and stereotypes. These result in a negative perception of the members of the other group, often resulting in stigmatization.

You can challenge such misconceptions by speaking up if you hear individuals using harmful language in the workplace. Lead through example by using the right words when referring to individuals of a minority group. Also, don’t be afraid to pull someone else who may be labeling individuals of a minority group through problematic words.

You can also avoid using diagnostic terms when referring to general behavior, as this could be disrespectful to members of a certain group.

Address Mental Health in the Workplace

Individuals struggling with mental health in the workplace are more likely to understand what is stigma.

However, much of the stigma around mental illness results from the fact that most people do not understand it.

People may therefore be forced to hide their experience with mental illness for fear of being treated differently.

If you are looking for how to reduce burnout in the workplace, you can try recognizing great work and rewarding employees when they perform well.

Also, the employer can offer support by creating a culture that encourages help-seeking. Leaders can support their employees by asking how they can help reduce unnecessary stress.

Unrealistic expectations can also result in employee burnout, leading to mental illness. If you are wondering how to reduce burnout in the workplace, you can start by setting realistic expectations on what an individual can deliver.

As a leader, you can also give your employees time off to deal with their responsibilities.

Fortunately, there are various ways employees can bounce back from burnout in the workplace by focusing on self-care.

This includes maintaining a healthy diet, regularly exercising, and seeking professional support when necessary.

If you are wondering how to reduce burnout in the workplace, you can also limit the demands you place on yourself. By managing these demands, you will be better able to accept when you can’t handle something.

Speak Out Against Stigma

You can be shocked at how well you can play a role in eliminating stigma by speaking out. Try looking for an opportunity to express your opinions surrounding stigma both in the workplace and within society.

You can consider expressing your opinions at events or on the internet as this could help to encourage others going through similar challenges.

Join a Support Group

Stigma in the workplace can have adverse side effects, including low self-esteem and poor mental health. However, you can overcome this by joining a group with which you can identify. Other than coiling yourself in the house, you can use these groups as opportunities to have fun to channel your energy toward other constructive activities.


There are various ways in which stigma can present itself in the workplace. Most times, stigmatization occurs to people from minority groups, and it stems from a lack of understanding other than information based on facts.

You can cope with stigma by understanding your current situation, recognizing what you need to do about it, seeking support, and helping educate others.