Did you know that in 2013 nearly 1 in 5 Americans had a diagnosable mental health condition and many others are at risk? With many employees spending more than one-third of their day at work, this definitely has an impact on the workplace. Fortunately, May is National Mental Health Month. What began as National Mental Health Awareness Week in the 1940s was upgraded to a monthly campaign — with May the designated month. This campaign is designed to raise awareness about mental illness and related issues in this country. Fortunately, attitudes toward mental health issues seem to be changing from a negative reactions and attitudes toward ones of acceptance and support to those that battle mental health issues.

Monitoring employees’ well-being is not only vital to ensure a safe working environment for all, it will also increase productivity and cut costs. While it may seem like a daunting task to check in on colleagues’ mental health during these extremely busy times, there are resources to assist in these efforts. Mental Health America is a community-based non-profit dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. The organization’s website has a Workplace Wellness section that lists five myths about mental illness, provides suggestions on how to achieve a work/life balance, offers tips on how to support people living with mental illness in the workplace, and shares information on workplace bullying and violence.

wellnessWellness Works
is a workplace mental health training program whose mission is to increase capacity for employers to respond more appropriately when employees have mental health issues, as well as reduce stigma and social prejudice toward people who have mental health challenges and mental illnesses, and promote mental wellness in the workplace. The company has a number of training programs that range from one-hour presentations to full-day interactive workshops. Their philosophy is, “Good health leads to good business.”

The workplace resources firm Perspectives Ltd. specializes in the nationwide delivery of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), Managed Behavioral Healthcare, WorkLife Services, Organizational Development and Wellness. The company takes an individualized approach with each customer organization and creating tailored solutions that have practical applications in their workplace. They offer a Health Risk Assessment (HRA), which individually assesses employees by providing an overall health score for each individual employee and for the organization as a whole — with wellness categories of heart health, nutrition, weight management, fitness, cancer, smoking, stress and safety. The HRA also offers recommendations for lifestyle changes to improve health status.

I’ve really only scratched the surface on this issue, hoping to provide you with some food for thought during National Mental Health Month. Over the course of May I will explore a few of these subjects in more detail. After all — Knowledge is Power!