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Mental Health is Health

Updated: Apr 19, 2023


Seeking Help

Mental health in the United States has been pushed back for decades. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2019) asserts that, Mental health disorders are among the most burdensome health concerns in the United States. Nearly 1 in 5 US adults aged 18 or older (18.3% or 44.7 million people) reported any mental illness in 2016.2 In addition, 71% of adults reported at least one symptom of stress, such as a headache or feeling overwhelmed or anxious. Many people with mental health disorders also need care for other physical health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, respiratory illness, and disorders that affect muscles, bones, and joints. The costs for treating people with both mental health disorders and other physical conditions are 2 to 3 times higher than for those without co-occurring illnesses. By combining medical and behavioral health care services, the United States could save $37.6 billion to $67.8 billion a year. (1)


PH WINS 2021 states "Among the most alarming findings from PH WINS 2021, more than half of governmental public health workers reported at least one symptom of PTSD, with one-quarter experiencing three or four symptoms. Almost one-third of respondents said they were considering leaving their organizations within the next year. Work overload/burnout and stress were among the top five reasons for leaving. In addition, 39% of those considering leaving said the pandemic influenced their motivation to leave."(2) The issues that exists within the workforce are poor job performance, engagement with one's work, communication with workers, physical and daily capabilities to function which can and, will affect the business. The stresses of family and the everyday stresses of work will cause an increase in depression, which in turn causes a high rate of decreased productivity. With a reduction of cognitive performance about 35% of the time. (1)


To have a robust working environment, employers must create a culture of health by providing his/her employees with

  • Communication structures are already in place.

  • Programs and policies come from one central team.

  • Social support networks are available.

  • Employers can offer incentives to reinforce healthy behaviors.

  • Employers can use data to track progress and measure the effects.

Action steps employers can take include:

  • Make mental health self-assessment tools available to all employees.

  • Offer free or subsidized clinical screenings for depression from a qualified mental health professional, followed by directed feedback and clinical referral when appropriate.

  • Offer health insurance with no or low out-of-pocket costs for depression medications and mental health counseling.

  • Provide free or subsidized lifestyle coaching, counseling, or self-management programs.

  • Distribute materials, such as brochures, fliers, and videos, to all employees about the signs and symptoms of poor mental health and opportunities for treatment.

  • Host seminars or workshops that address depression and stress management techniques, like mindfulness, breathing exercises, and meditation, to help employees reduce anxiety and stress and improve focus and motivation.

  • Create and maintain dedicated, quiet spaces for relaxation activities.

  • Provide managers with training to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and depression in team members and encourage them to seek help from qualified mental health professionals.

  • Give employees opportunities to participate in decisions about issues that affect job stress. (1)


Mental health in the United States has been pushed back for decades. And more than ever it's time to make mental health apart of our overall healthcare system, because mental health is health.


Reference

  1. Mental Health in the Workplace (cdc.gov)

  2. Prioritizing mental wellness in the public health workforce | Public Health Newswire


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