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KPBS Midday Edition

How workplaces can help employees experiencing mental health challenges

In this file image from March 30, 2020, Dr. Nick Yphantides gives an update on San Diego County's coronavirus case rates.
County of San Diego
In this file image from March 30, 2020, Dr. Nick Yphantides gives an update on San Diego County's coronavirus case rates.

There’s a dispute currently taking place between San Diego County and the county’s former chief medical officer, Dr. Nick Yphantides, known to many as Dr. Nick; a prominent county spokesman during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yphantides said during a county press conference that stress led him to take a leave of absence from his position.

“But I must be transparent and admit that eventually, the stress became overwhelming for me. I couldn’t run from it. I began suffering from depression and overwhelming anxiety. I lost my ability to sleep. And so in that situation, I did what I believe any of us would tell our loved ones to do. To take a brief leave of absence,” Yphantides said.

San Diego Access and Crisis Line: (888) 724-7240

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255; Spanish: 1-888-628-9454

After he took a medical leave of absence, Yphantides claims he was not allowed to resume his position with the county. Now, in a lawsuit filed against the county, the doctor’s attorney claims Yphantides was “thrown away” because of his mental health disability. The county has not commented on the pending litigation.


In light of these allegations, KPBS Midday Edition reached out to Catherine Mattice, the founder and CEO of Civility Partners, an HR consulting firm that focuses on helping organizations create respectful and positive workplace cultures. Midday Edition spoke to Mattice about the stigma surrounding mental health challenges, what protections are in place for workers experiencing mental illness, and what can workplaces do to help those experiencing mental health challenges.

"If an employer can support mental health regularly, and on a consistent basis, you won't have people leaving, you know, abruptly because they've all of a sudden burned out and need some time off," Mattice said.

She said the pandemic has opened a new range of challenges that lead to extra stressors.

"There has just been change after change after change, and change causes stress. Then you've got the pressures of work. Everybody needs to make sure they keep their paycheck and survive," she said. "I suspect that many of us have been holding back on our stress or letting it come through in order to just put our heads down to get through this."

Listen to the full interview here:

Handling mental health in the workplace, and the stigma that comes with it.