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Business leaders seek to end stigma of mental illness in workplace

When we talk about our personal lives in the workplace, there are some things we don’t bring up. The birth of a child, sure. An appointment with your cardiologist, maybe. But a panic attack on the way to work, or a major depressive episode? Probably not.

Now, a group of business leaders is trying to change that. CEOs Against Stigma, a group organized by the Massachusetts chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is kicking off a campaign on Friday to recruit chief executives of Massachusetts companies to pledge to foster openness and support at their firms.

The group plans to make a business case for caring about mental illness. According to a survey the group conducted last year, 92 percent of Bay State residents said mental illnesses should be shared with family members and 76 percent said they should be disclosed to friends, but only 27 percent would advise telling co-workers. That silence can lead to employees to quit or become less productive, the CEO group said.


The campaign said it has 25 CEOs already signed up, including Massachusetts Port Authority head Thomas Glynn and executives from Beacon Health Options and Commonwealth Medicine. It plans to release a paper and share more details Friday.

Jack Newsham can be reached at jack.newsham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.