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What does the movie ‘Joker’ mean for mental health wellness at work?

While the film may stimulate thoughts or leave us disturbed, it is a good reminder of the significant impact of mental health over individuals, companies and the society as a whole.

source: Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros.

Have you watched the latest ‘Joker’ film? If the answer is yes, chances are you left the cinema feeling disturbed and unsettled.

For those who haven’t watched it yet (and you should have by now), "Joker" tells the story of Arthur Fleck, who turns to violence after being marginalised by the society for years.

The film attempts to explain how a man who was once a mental patient is somewhat shaped into the most infamous monster in the batman saga by chance but not by choice.

While the movie sparked debates as to whether it portrayed mental illness correctly, there is no doubt that the film sheds light on the significant impact of mental health over individuals and the society as a whole.

source: Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros.

Arthur, despite his tragic upbringing and mental illness, dreamed to become a comedian one day. While he never ‘made it’, he played the role of a clown in a worn-out comedy club where he was constantly bullied and mocked by his colleagues.

He then later shot one of his ex-colleagues towards the end of the movie, who indirectly got him fired.

The portrayal is brutally honest yet deeply moving and powerful – to the extent that it drags the audience into Arthur’s world and hence justifying his violent acts as “self-defence” or a gesture of “holding up a middle finger to the society”.

Social worker: “How’s your job? Are you having any negative thoughts?”
Arthur: “All I have are negative thoughts.

Truth is – mental illness continues to be on the rise, and the society and employers have no choice but to pay attention.

Half of Millennials and 75% of Generation Z workers have left a job voluntarily for mental health reasons, compared to 20% of older generations.

That’s according to a recent study from Mind Share Partners that analyzed the responses of 1,500 adults in the private, non-profit and government sectors to shed light on the prevalence of mental health challenges – and stigma – in US workplaces.

A resounding 86% of respondents thought that a company’s culture should support mental health.

source: Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros.

This percentage was even higher among Gen Zers and Millennials, the latter of which are the largest generation in the US workforce and more likely to switch jobs – two factors that should, in theory, motivate employers to promote better mental health in order to retain and attract talent.

“Mental health is becoming the next frontier of diversity and inclusion, and employees want their companies to address it,” the authors wrote.

In the US, where some 200 million workdays per year are lost due to depression, 60% of the survey’s respondents said they haven’t spoken to anyone at work about their mental health in the past year.

Employees want this to change. Mind Share Partner’s research found employees overall want mental health training, clearer information about mental health resources and a more open and supportive culture for mental health at work.

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