World Mental Health Day: Why it’s important for employers to support mental health

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On the 10th of October countries around the world will come together to support the efforts of World Mental Health day.

Mental illness remains among the most stigmatized of health conditions. According to the World Health Organisation, 1 in 4 people in the world will be affected by a mental or neurological disorder during their lifetime. There are currently 450 million people worldwide suffering from a mental health condition, making mental health one of the leading causes of global disability.

More than 33% of countries worldwide allocated less than an astounding 1% of their total health budget to mental health. In addition, another 33% of countries only allocate a total of 1% of their budget to health of the mind. Despite these alarming figures, mental health remains one of the most taboo health issues, and this is no exception when it comes to the workplace.

Employees want receptive employers

Madalyn Parker, a web developer at Olark Live Chat, recently wrote to her team, “I’ll be taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully, I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.” What she wasn’t expecting was the supportive reply from her CEO, Ben Congelton, which she shared on Twitter. Users were equally surprised at Congelton’s response, with many also sharing their own personal experiences, both positive and negative. The exchange has since been retweeted nearly 16,000 times and liked 44,000 times.

“When the CEO responds to your out of the office email about taking sick leave for mental health and reaffirms your decision.” pic.twitter.com/6BvJVCJJFq

— madalyn (@madalynrose) June 30, 2017

Congelton, also blown away by the viral tweet, continued his response in an essay for Medium. He wrote, “It’s 2017. We are in a knowledge economy. Our jobs require us to execute at peak mental performance. When an athlete is injured they sit on the bench and recover. Let’s get rid of the idea that somehow the brain is different.”

Why it matters

Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, explained in an interview with USA Today: “If you have a cold, or have the flu, or you’re feeling under the weather, most employers say don’t come to work. But yet we treat mental health differently, we act as though if you’re having a bad day, or you’re feeling depressed or you’re having anxiety, that you should just toughen up and come to work anyway.”

Those who do take time off often feel they can’t reveal the true reason for their absence or talk about their illness. This stigma can exacerbate illnesses by adding unnecessary stress and self-esteem issues or causing sufferers to delay or refuse treatment.

The need for normalization

Because of the stigma in discussing and dealing with mental illness, many employees don’t feel their employers value their well-being.  Addressing it will not only have a positive effect on struggling employees, but also combat widespread economic consequences as well.  Organizations that pay attention to the mental health and wellness of their employees are likely to realize significant benefits through a healthier, more productive workforce. Employers should create a company culture that allows or encourages talking about mental health. They could also offer programs for to help with managing or decreasing stress and mental health screenings.

To learn more about workplace mental health solutions, tune in to Best Doctors webinar, Mental Health in the Workplace.  Hear from an expert team of highly respected clinicians and HR leaders to learn strategies and best practices to improve the mental health ecosystem. The session will highlight the profound impact mental health has on physical and financial health, and how the workplace is the optimal environment to provide education and access to services to improve outcomes and ultimately reduce costs associated with absenteeism, disability and complex medical cases.

For more information how to get involved in World Mental Health Day please visit: www.who.int

Sources:

www.who.int

www.usatoday.com

medium.com

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