Did you know May is Mental Health Awareness Month? It was first observed in 1949 to raise awareness on the importance of mental health and well-being in Americans’ lives. Throughout the month of May, national organizations such as National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and Mental Health America make it a priority to fight the stigma, provide support and educate the public on mental illness.
Individuals of all ages are now struggling with mental health more than ever. A mental illness is defined as “a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, behavior or mood.” Common mental health illnesses that Americans face include anxiety, depression, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, and many more. Each illness has its own signs and symptoms, but the most prevalent signs and symptoms include:
- Excessive worry or fear
- Confused thinking or trouble concentrating
- Extreme mood changes
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Change in sleeping or eating habits
Recognizing and identifying these warning signs is essential in order to provide the best support focused on your employees’ needs.
How can you support your employees during Mental Health Awareness Month?
- Listen to their story
Beat the stigma surrounding mental health by engaging in conversations with coworkers or employees about their personal experiences. Engaging in frequent conversations will help others who are struggling to recognize that they aren’t alone.
- Educate your employees
Dedicate time to educate your employees on mental health and wellness. Understanding the signs, symptoms and effects it can have allows your team to be advocates and encourage those who may be struggling to seek help. Visit NAMI, MHA National, or NIH to get started.
- Normalize therapy
Encourage employees to speak with a therapist to address mental health challenges that they are currently facing. Therapists are trained to help those manage and cope with various struggles. Educate employees to seek an in-network provider or use your Employee Assistance Program to learn more.
- Encourage self-care
Self-care isn’t an indulgence; it’s a necessity. It’s the exercise of protecting one’s well-being and happiness, especially during times of stress. Some examples of self-care include meditation, engaging in physical activity, writing out things one may be thankful for or participating in activities that bring them joy.
- Support your employees
Make it a priority to check in with employees who are struggling with mental health. When appropriate, a simple message or phone call can go a long way.
Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month and become an advocate for those struggling with mental illness this month and beyond. To learn more about how you can provide mental health support to your employees throughout the year, contact our wellness team.