What if we cared for our minds as we do our bodies…
The week of May 7th, 2018 was Mental Health Week through the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). This year marked the 67th annual CMHA Mental Health Week; however, it could be debated whether the topic of mental health & wellness has had the attention that it deserves for the last 6 decades.
What are the stats?
It is stated by CMHA that 1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental health issue in any given year.
How is mental health perceived?
The CMHA reports that:
- 57% of Canadians believe that the stigma associated with mental illness has been reduced compared to five years ago.
- 81% are more aware of mental health issues compared to five years ago.
- 70% believe attitudes about mental health issues have changed for the better compared to five years ago.
This is a good news story, but now what?
What issues are driving the mental health index in the workplace?
The 2018 Workplace Mental Health Priorities study by Morneau Shepell indicated the top 3 sources of personal stress to be: financial issues, aging parents and feeling of isolation. The topic of isolation may not be a familiar subject for everyone as it relates to mental health; this is determined as a risk factor for disease, comparatively to smoking and obesity (source: Goleman) and also linked with reduction in brain activity (source: University of Chicago).
How can the workplace support mental health?
Further to the Morneau Shepell study, there are four areas indicated as being key at supporting the mental health of employees.
- Providing support and resources to employees going through distress.
- Support employees dealing with issues related to family members.
- Helping employees develop coping skills.
- Preventing workplace risks that could create mental health issues.
The study confirmed that 16% of employees and 20% of managers felt that their workplace was strong in all four areas. It is imperative that employers implement a mental health strategy, alongside strong supporting programs; and open communication is key.
A positive step in supporting mental health in the workplace would be implementing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Strong communication around this program is imperative to ensure that employees feel supported continuously.
Checking in with mental health.
The CMHA has created a tool that anyone can utilize to check in on their own mental health.
Although the above was not developed with the intention of being scientific or medical in nature, it is a valuable way to check in and build self-awareness around mental health.
What can be done daily?
The above link could be shared with employees and discussed within the workplace. Normalizing the conversation around mental wellness is imperative because everyone has mental health to care for, similar to physical health which is far more familiar for most.
A thought about future generations.
Everyone has a role to play with respect to normalizing the conversation about mental health & wellness with children and youth. Perhaps one day a point will be reached where taking care of ones’ mental health holds just as much weight as taking care of ones’ physical self, without even thinking twice or having surveys to confirm this.