Raising Awareness of Good Mental Health

Did you know that 1 in 4 Americans will suffer from some form of mental illness in any given year? Did you know that serious mental illness costs the U.S. $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year?

Mental health disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and many other developed countries, affecting people from all walks of life, regardless of age, gender, income level, or ethnicity. To raise awareness of the importance of good mental health, May is recognized as Mental Health Month.

During the month, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) joins the mental health community to reaffirm their commitment to building a better understanding of mental illness, increasing access to treatment, and ensuring those who are struggling to know they are not alone. More specifically, this year from May 3-9 is recognized as Children's Mental Health Awareness Week whereby NAMI joins communities around the country in raising awareness about the mental health needs of America's youngest citizens.

Good mental health is an essential component of overall health and well-being; however, it is often overlooked in both the community and the workplace, even though the statistics are staggering. For example, depression is the most prevalent mental health problem, affecting more than 21 million American children and adults annually, and is often cited as one of the leading causes of lost workplace productivity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression is a major cause of disability, absenteeism, presenteeism, and productivity loss among working-age adults. The top reasons for workplace employee assistance calls typically are related to mental or emotional health, relationships, family and children, and stress and anxiety disorders.

Good mental health should be critical to any employer's wellness initiative, and represents an area of increasing concern to organizations. Good mental health is associated with higher productivity, better performance, more consistent work attendance, and fewer workplace accidents, while poor mental health negatively affects a person's physical health, contributing to physical problems such as heart disease, ulcers, and colitis. Poor mental health, also, causes excessive anxiety and stress, thereby reducing the strength of the immune system and leading to physical ailments.

Poor mental health affects the mind, body, and the spirit. A mentally healthy workforce is good for business and strengthens and supports our ability to have healthy relationships, make good life choices, maintain physical health and well-being, handle the natural ups and downs of life, and discover and grow towards our full potential.

Individuals need support on all fronts. For example, without community and employer programs and resources in place to help support and improve the mental well-being of employees, lasting change is difficult to sustain.