Mental Health in Today's Workplace
According to Mental Health America's State of Mental Health in America, 19.86% of adults are experiencing a mental illness. That equates to nearly 50 million Americans! And 1 in 20 (4.91%) are experiencing a severe mental illness. Alarmingly, the estimated number of adults with serious suicidal thoughts is over 11.4 million - this number has jumped by 664,000 people since last year. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This morning - look around your office or look through your contacts - and realize the odds are that you or someone with whom you're working is experiencing mental illness and may be struggling. This is one awareness month that no one can afford to ignore.
Periodically checking in on coworkers is a great way to strengthen relationships and support mental wellness. Choose several questions from the list below and allow adequate time for a meaningful conversation. MHA suggests active listening and refraining from judgment are critical for effective check-ins.
- How are you feeling today, really? Physically and mentally.
- What's taking up most of your headspace right now?
- What did you do [lately] that made you feel good?
- What's something you can do today that would be good for you?
- What's something you're looking forward to in the next few days?
According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, warning signs of mental illness vary and can include seemingly common behaviors such as excessive worrying or fear, feeling excessively sad or low, confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning, avoiding friends and social activities, and changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy. Unfortunately, trying to tell the difference between what expected behaviors are and what might be the signs of a mental illness isn't always easy. Hence, NAMI created this video to help and also raise awareness.
A wealth of excellent resources are available online! MHA's Get Help Resource Section includes:
- Worksheet - Starting a conversation with someone about their mental health
- Emergency/crisis support contacts
- Free/low-cost assistance resources
- An online therapist matching tool
Their DIY section includes apps, worksheets, and other tools to improve your own mental health. Here are a few direct links to great examples:
Now really is an excellent time to educate ourselves about mental illness. The National Alliance for Mental Illness and Mental Health America are great places to start your search and access lifesaving resources.