mental health awareness

Mental Health Awareness Remains Key Focus for Well-Run Workplace Wellness

Mental health awareness is in the news again, and it offers a strong opportunity to remind reader of the positive role workplace wellness can play.

A new Vital Signs report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “suicide rates in the United States have risen nearly 30% since 1999, and mental health conditions are one of several factors contributing to suicide. Examining state-level trends in suicide and the multiple circumstances contributing to it can inform comprehensive state suicide prevention planning.”

The report adds that “Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death and is one of just three leading causes that are increasing. In addition, rates of emergency department visits for nonfatal self-harm, a main risk factor for suicide, increased 42% from 2001 to 2016. Together, suicides and self-harm injuries cost the nation approximately $70 billion per year in direct medical and work loss costs.”

Raising awareness, including through workplace wellness programs, can help.

The CDC states: “The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention calls for a public health approach to suicide prevention with efforts spanning multiple levels (individual, family/relationship, community, and societal). Such a comprehensive approach underscores that suicide is rarely caused by any single factor, but rather, is determined by multiple factors… In addition to mental health conditions and prior suicide attempts, other contributing circumstances include social and economic problems, access to lethal means (e.g., substances, firearms) among persons at risk, and poor coping and problem-solving skills.”

We recently noted a new report published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine titled “Mental Health in the Workplace: A Call to Action Proceedings from the Mental Health in the Workplace: Public Health Summit.”

Leaders addressed — and outlined — several recommendations for action, including Develop a Mental Health in the Workplace “How To” Guide:

  • “Provide employers with advice and guidance along with a standard set of metrics that can be used to design, implement, and evaluate mental health in the workplace programs focused on building a culture of health and well-being and work organization and design, as well as focusing on employee-specific problems such as depression, addiction, and violence.”
  • “A Mental Health in the Workplace ‘How To’ Guide would inform effective program designs and offer assessment tools to determine whether existing programs are effective and achieving impact. Further, having a clearly defined set of metrics is necessary, especially when working alongside mental health providers, wellness vendors, insurance companies, and community partners.”