"Get Connected" in May to Co-Workers, Employees to Boost Workplace Wellness
Mental Health America Encourages Strengthening
of Support Networks
Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588 email@example.com
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (May 19, 2008)-Mental Health America is encouraging all employees and employers to strengthen support networks to boost workplace wellness throughout May as part of its 2008 May is Mental Health Month Connection Challenge. Mental Health America is challenging all Americans to make positive and life-fulfilling connections this month to improve upon how we as a nation deal with the stress of living in a 24/7 on-the-go society.
"Years of research have shown that individuals who feel valued and cared for are better equipped to deal with stress and adversity and even experience less severe illnesses than those with little social support," said David Shern, Ph.D., president & CEO of Mental Health America. "Given the prominent role work plays in our lives and the difficulty of balancing the demands of home and work, it is crucial we build strong connections in our workplaces."
For many of us, stress is at an all-time high level and we all know that stress affects us at work. In fact, one in four people say they've missed work due to work-related stress. When we are under chronic stress, we often have trouble meeting deadlines, concentrating and making decisions. Our productivity and performance decrease as our stress levels increase. We may develop relationship problems with colleagues. Many people who are over-stressed at work are unable to leave their job-related issues behind at night or they feel immobilized on the job. Stress can also mean more headaches, backaches and colds - and more sick days.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses and tends to affect people in their prime working years. But more than 80 percent of people with clinical depression can be successfully treated. With early recognition, intervention, and support, most employees can overcome clinical depression and pick up where they left off.
We all can make the connection to co-workers and employees that address these issues:
Co-workers: Given the amount of time we dedicate to work, healthy relationships with coworkers are a must. Spend a lunch hour with officemates or reach out to someone you haven't talked to in a while, take a walk or grab coffee. If you know a colleague is experiencing a mental health problem, continue to show them respect. Help make the person aware of their value in the workplace and to their colleagues. Offer encouragement and pay them genuine compliments.
Supervisors: In a typical workplace, four out 20 workers will suffer from a mental health problem each year. They can strike anyone, regardless of age, ethnic background, gender or socioeconomic status. If you are supervisor, you cannot and should not diagnose an employee. However, you can note and discuss changes in work performance, and listen to the employee's response and concerns. If there are personal issues, use the trust between you to suggest that the employee seek consultation from your organization's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or a mental health professional. If your organization has an EAP, it should be able to help in encouraging the employee to seek a mental health assessment.
To support employees who are dealing with a mental health problem, be prepared to accommodate staff who have "standing appointments" for mental health treatment. Contact your organization's human resources staff to find out about flexible work schedules and leave policies. Some employees may need time off for treatment, and supervisors need to ensure a healthy transition back to work. Staff should also be encouraged to ask for the support they need, and supervisors should provide an environment where people feel comfortable and not judged.
Businesses: Employers have learned that addressing employees' mental health needs makes good economic sense. Results of dozens of studies show that providing a minimal level of enhanced care for employees' depression would result in a cumulative savings to employers of $2,898 per 1,000 workers over 5 years. It's also important to create an environment in which staff members are encouraged to talk about stress, workload, and family commitments - and feel comfortable accessing care. Send the message that mental illnesses are real and treatable. With access to appropriate treatment, the vast majority of people with mental illnesses achieves significant improvement and continues to lead productive lives. Mental Health problems actually have better treatment outcome rates than the vast majority of common medical conditions.
If your health or mental health plan administrator includes an EAP, its staff may be helpful in some or all of these situations and efforts. For more information or referrals to local services, visit our online Frequently Asked Questions section at www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/faqs, contact Mental Health America, or contact your local Mental Health America affiliate.
Mental Health America founded May is Mental Health Month 50 years ago to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental health for all. This year's theme - "Get Connected" - is focused on the important role social connectedness plays in maintaining and protecting mental health and wellness.
Mental Health America is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping ALL people live mentally healthier lives. With our more than 320 affiliates nationwide, we represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation - everyday and in times of crisis.