Mental Health America, one of the oldest nonprofit organizations in the country dedicated to addressing the issues around mental illness and mental health, has been promoting May as Mental Health month since 1949. The theme this year, "Do more for 1 in 4," speaks to the prevalence of mental illness and the estimated 54 million adult Americans who have a diagnosable mental health condition.
The organization points out that approximately 50% of those with these conditions go unassisted and untreated for a variety of reasons—stigma, lack of information, cost and/or lack of health insurance. However, they also point out that they are treatable and that most individuals go on to recover and lead full, productive lives.
This is a business issue because numerous studies have shown that those suffering from depression, as an example, are more likely to be absent more frequently and not as productive when they are at work—and, they have higher medical expenses. In addition, depression and anxiety have experienced one of the highest rates of increase in disability claims. Thus, it's important to recognize and address mental health issues at their earliest stages—for the sake of the employee and your organization.
Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can serve a valuable role in ensuring that your employees get the help that they and their family members need to combat mental health issues. It combats all the barriers to seeking and obtaining the help people need:
- It's confidential—there's no stigma to fear, and our counselors can help individuals seeking help to understand that seeking help is far preferable to suffering in silence.
- There are good information sources on our website and through our counselors to help those seeking help to learn more about the many forms mental illness can take—and the importance of treating it quickly and appropriately.
- It's no-cost to employees and their families. Sometimes issues can be resolved within the context of EAP—which is valuable for everyone, but especially those without insurance coverage, or with high deductibles. For more complex cases beyond the scope of EAP, our counselors work with the client to find affordable, in-network (for those with health insurance) resources to ensure that individuals get the help they need—and that it's the right kind of help. This saves both time and money, and provides peace of mind to those who are concerned about access.
If you have an employee newsletter or intranet site, this is a good opportunity to raise awareness about the issue of mental health, the prevalence of mental illness, and the resources available to them if they or someone in their family is struggling—including their EAP. Your account manager can provide you with electronic versions of our "Your EAP" poster and flyer, too, or more information about mental illness to share with your employees.
Pathways to Well Being Call VITAL WorkLife at 800.383.1908 or access resources through your VITAL WorkLife App