Doing our part to reduce stigma of COVID-19
The pandemic has caused a huge amount of stress on all of us – within our families, in our workplaces, and in our communities. While we are hopeful a return to ‘normal’ will be coming soon, the pandemic is not yet over and we must all remain focused on limiting the spread of COVID-19 and mitigating the harm it can cause to our health, including our mental health well-being.
COVID-19 Stigma: threat to our health
Unfortunately, throughout the pandemic, many people have been experiencing social stigma, exclusion, discrimination, and mental health issues. Lack of understanding about COVID-19 has sparked feelings of fear, anger, and other unfair treatment against people who have contracted or have symptoms of COVID-19.
Stigma and discrimination are known barriers that prevent people from getting tested or accessing the care, treatment and support they need.
In our schools and workplaces this harm can mean:
- exposing workers to high levels of guilt and stress
- creating divisions in our workplaces and in our union
- causing people to delay or avoid health services
- making it harder to monitor, stop or slow outbreaks, and impede contract tracing
- discouraging people from being tested
Stigma and discrimination may also discourage workers from reporting COVID-19 cases to WorkSafeBC.
CUPE members in K-12 and early learning are strongly encouraged to file a WorkSafeBC claim in any and all instances where they have reason to believe they contracted COVID-19 while at work (more information on why reporting is so important was covered in our April 30 bulletin).
Spreading rumors and perpetuating the stigma around COVID-19 can be harmful to you, your fellow workers, and the solidarity of our union.
We can all do our part to reduce stigma around COVID-19!
- Be careful of the language you use to describe COVID-19 or someone who has the virus
- Stay focused on positives, such as the steps being taken to contain COVID-19 and the preventative steps we are all taking to keep safe
- Raise awareness by sharing messages based on facts, and correct any misconceptions that people believe or have spread
- Respect privacy. There is no need to tell others if someone you know is infected or you suspect are infected
- Show support, kindness and empathy to those who have, or are tested for, COVID-19
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