It’s Time to Talk About Mental Health

February 18, 2023by Jennifer Murray0

In the past, mental health was not a common topic of discussion. No one wanted to admit they were struggling and as a result, they often suffered alone. No one wanted their bosses, family members, colleagues, or subordinates to know they had high anxiety, depression, or both. One of my colleagues recently shared that she had been depressed, but felt that she needed to be strong for the individuals that depended upon her. Her mindset was outdated, and it took a significant toll on her wellness.

Today the topic of mental health is frequently in the headlines, as well as in group discussions. People of all ages are grasping for something that will help them feel “normal.” Last week, major news outlets referenced a CDC report that exposed the mental illness trend among youth. “Nearly 60% of female students and nearly 70% of LGBQ+ students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.”

Some organizations have developed Employee Resource Groups (ERG’s) for the common interest in mental health. For those who haven’t implemented Employee Resource Groups, they are one solution to creating stronger connections and a sense of belonging within organizations. For example, if team members – working remotely or in an office – feel like they are grasping for solutions to the mental health issues they or their family members are experiencing, an ERG can offer support, resources, and a safe space to have discussions. Without any solutions to support team members, isolation and unresolved health issues result in absenteeism, presenteeism, missed deadlines, termination, or a worsening condition.

During the “COVID years,” data suggested that mental illness would be the next pandemic. I spoke with my physician recently to find out if this projection is her reality. From her perspective, the numbers are slightly lower now than they were a year ago, but some populations are struggling to a much greater degree. In particular, higher numbers of students and healthcare providers are suffering from depression and anxiety.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) boldly states that “1 in 5 adults in North Carolina experience mental illness each year. In February 2021, 44.7% of adults in North Carolina reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. Sadly, 22.1% were unable to get needed counseling or therapy. Furthermore, 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6–17 experience a mental health disorder each year.”

Why do we bring this issue up to employers? Your people are your most valued assets. If your team members are suffering, they are not able to perform at their highest capacity to help you achieve your business goals. Mental illness has become a distraction that requires attention and as an employer, you may discover that some of your team members are not quietly quitting. They are suffering in silence.

Secondly, some individuals resort to drugs or alcohol to alleviate the pain. This is another source of declined productivity and could negatively impact your healthcare expenses. From 2000-2020 more than 28,000 North Carolinians lost their lives to drug overdose. “This epidemic is devastating families and communities. It is overwhelming medical providers and is straining prevention and treatment efforts.”

Third, if you strive to minimize voluntary terminations, tuning into your team members, uncovering their concerns, and providing resources can help you meet your objectives. There are a broad array of resources to explore. Medical insurance may have components that need to be communicated to the members in greater detail. Employee Assistance Plans offer counseling and self-help resources. Promoting exercise and wellness programs can be beneficial. Meditation and Tapping apps have risen in popularity. Employee Resource Groups and Lunch and Learn programs on this topic can open up the conversation. Training leaders to look for warning signs, advise on the need to support team members, create space for open dialogue, and share the resources are simple steps.

We worked with an organization that introduced an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) in December 2022. Within the first month, 10% of the team asked for the plan details. Some EAP’s will provide utilization reports that will demonstrate the value of the program. One organization saw no utilization in the past year. The CFO questioned the expense. It is an insurance policy available to support the next team member when the need arises. Data indicates that it’s likely that someone will need it this year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Headquarters
230 Hampton Woods Lane, Suite 101 Raleigh, NC 27607
Satellite Office
2929 Breezewood Ave. Suite 101, Fayetteville, NC. 28303
OUR LOCATIONSWhere to find us
https://onboardwithus.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/img-footer-map1.jpg
https://onboardwithus.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Veterans-at-work.jpg
Headquarters
230 Hampton Woods Lane, Suite 101 Raleigh, NC 27607
Satellite Office
2929 Breezewood Ave. Suite 101, Fayetteville, NC. 28303
Where to find us
https://onboardwithus.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/img-footer-map1.jpg